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elementary particle

noun, Physics.
any lepton, hadron, photon, or graviton, the particles once thought to be the indivisible components of all matter or radiation.
Origin of elementary particle
First recorded in 1930-35 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for elementary particles
Historical Examples
  • But nevertheless, even in questions as to the constitution of elementary particles, it retains part of its importance.

    Sidelights on Relativity Albert Einstein
  • The behavior of the muon is well understood, but its role as one of the elementary particles is unknown.

    LRL Accelerators Lawrence Radiation Laboratory
  • Mesons are elementary particles intermediate in mass between the electron and proton.

    LRL Accelerators Lawrence Radiation Laboratory
British Dictionary definitions for elementary particles

elementary particle

any of several entities, such as electrons, neutrons, or protons, that are less complex than atoms and are regarded as the constituents of all matter Also called fundamental particle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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elementary particles in Medicine

elementary particle n.

  1. A knoblike body that appears on the luminal surfaces of mitochondrial cristae and is believed to be involved with the electron transport system.

  2. Any of the subatomic particles that compose matter and energy, especially one hypothesized or regarded as an irreducible constituent of matter. Also called fundamental particle.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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elementary particles in Science
elementary particle
Any of the smallest, discrete entities of which the universe is composed, including the quarks, leptons, and gauge bosons, which are not themselves made up of other particles. Most types of elementary particles have mass, though at least one, the photon, does not. Also called fundamental particle. See also composite particle, subatomic particle.

Our Living Language  : The smallest known units of matter, or elementary particles, are classified under three distinct groups: the quarks, the leptons, and the bosons. The six types or "flavors" of quarks are the up quark, the down quark, the charm quark, the strange quark, the top quark and the bottom quark. All quarks have mass, electric charge, and a special kind of charge called color, and each is associated with a distinct antiparticle, making twelve quarks in all. The leptons include the electron, the muon, the tau particle, the electron neutrino, the muon neutrino, and the tau neutrino. These particles also have distinct antiparticles; the neutrinos are electrically neutral and, if they do have mass, are extremely light. Each of these elementary particles interacts with other elementary particles through one or more forces: the electromagnetic force (between particles with electric charge), the strong force (between particles with color charge, such as the quarks), the weak force (between all leptons and quarks), and the gravitational force (between all particles). These forces are mediated by yet another set of elementary particles, the gauge bosons: when two particles interact, they exchange one or more gauge bosons. The gauge bosons include the W and Z bosons, which mediate the weak nuclear force, the gluon, which mediates the strong nuclear force, and the photon, which mediates the electromagnetic force. The hypothetical graviton, which would mediate the gravitational force, has not been isolated. A sixth boson, the Higgs boson, is believed to interact with the other elementary particles in such a way as to impart mass to them; it too has not been experimentally isolated. Though these particles are believed to be elementary, they can under certain circumstances change into other elementary particles. In beta decay, for example, an up quark turns into a down quark, emitting an electron and an electron antineutrino in the process. All known forms of matter and energy are made of combinations of and interactions between elementary particles; atoms, for example, are made of electrons orbiting a nucleus composed of quarks bound together into larger particles, the protons and neutrons. Whether these particles might themselves be composed of more fundamental building blocks is an open question, and the construction of a "theory of everything" that would explain the properties of all of the known particles and forces remains the ultimate goal for modern physics.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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elementary particles in Culture

elementary particles definition

The particles that make up the atom. The elementary particles include electrons and a large number of particles, including protons and neutrons, that exist inside the nucleus of atoms. Strictly speaking, the term elementary as applied to most of the particles in the nucleus is inaccurate, for scientists now believe that all the particles except electrons are made of still more elementary particles called quarks.

Note: The study of elementary particles is one of the frontiers of modern physics and is associated with the building of particle accelerators.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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