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[fer-uh-mohn] /ˈfɛr əˌmoʊn/
noun, Animal Behavior.
any chemical substance released by an animal that serves to influence the physiology or behavior of other members of the same species.
Origin of pheromone
1959; < Greek phér(ein) to bear, bring + -o- + (hor)mone
Related forms
pheromonal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for pheromones


a chemical substance, secreted externally by certain animals, such as insects, affecting the behaviour or physiology of other animals of the same species
Word Origin
C20: phero-, from Greek pherein to bear + (hor)mone
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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Word Origin and History for pheromones



"chemical released by an animal that causes a specific response when detected by another animal of the same species," but the exact definition is much debated; 1959, coined (by Karlson & Lüscher) from Greek pherein "to carry" (see infer) + ending as in hormone.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pheromones in Medicine

pheromone pher·o·mone (fěr'ə-mōn')
A chemical that is secreted by an animal, especially an insect, and that influences the behavior or development of others of the same species.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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pheromones in Science
A chemical secreted by an animal that influences the behavior or development of other members of the same species. Queen bees, for example, give off a pheromone that prevents other females in the hive from becoming sexually mature, with the result that only the queen bee mates and lays eggs. In many animal species, pheromones are used to establish territory and attract mates.

Our Living Language  : The release of pheromones is one of various forms of nonverbal communication many animals use to transmit messages to other members of the same species. The complex molecular structure of pheromones allows these chemical messages to contain a great deal of often very specific information. The pheromone released by sexually receptive silkworm moths, first isolated in the 1950s, is one of the best-studied examples. The pheromone bombykol, released by the female from a gland in her belly, is detectable by male silkworm moths up to several kilometers away. The male identifies the chemical in the environment with tiny receptors at the tip of his antennae and is then able to hone in on the female. Hornets, when disturbed, release an alarm pheromone that calls other hornets to their aid. Female mice pheromones may excite a male mouse to mate immediately. In addition to producing instinctive behavioral responses, pheromones can also produce changes in an animal's physiology, spurring the onset of puberty or bringing on estrus. Pheromones used by animals, such as cats and dogs, to mark territory can convey information about an animal's species, gender, age, social and reproductive status, size, and even when it was last in the area. But can humans communicate via chemicals, too? In the 1970s Martha McClintock showed that the menstrual cycles of women living closely together in dormitories tended to become synchronized, an effect thought by some to be mediated by pheromones. Despite such evidence, no pheromone receptors have yet been found in humans.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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pheromones in Culture
pheromones [(fer-uh-mohns)]

Small molecules that, when released by one organism, act as chemical signals to induce a certain behavior in another organism. Scents that attract animals to each other in a mating process are an example of pheromones.

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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