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variant of -cle1: animalcule; molecule; reticule.
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Origin of -cule

From French, from Latin -culus, -cula, -culum; see -cle1

Other definitions for -cule (2 of 2)


variant of -cle2: ridicule.

Origin of -cule

From French, from Latin -culum, -cula; see -cle2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does -cule mean?

The suffix -cule has two distinct senses.

The first of these senses is to denote a diminutive noun, meaning to indicate something small in size or importance. It is also used in other French loanwords from Latin. This form of -cule is occasionally used in a variety of everyday and technical terms. The suffix -cule comes from the Latin endings -culus (masculine), -cula (feminine), and -culum (neuter), which originally designated diminutive nouns.

The second of these senses is in words borrowed from Latin where it formed verb nouns that denoted a place appropriate to the action of the verb or means by which the action is performed. This form of -cule is used very rarely in everyday and technical terms. The suffix -cule comes from Latin -cula and -culum by way of French or Old French.

What are variants of -cule?

A variant of -cule in both senses of the suffix is -cle, as in article or vehicle. Want to know more? Read our Words That Use article on -cle.

Examples of -cule with the sense "diminutive noun"

A word you may be familiar with that features the suffix -cule is molecule, “the smallest physical unit of an element or compound.”

The mole- part of the word means “mass,” from Latin mōlē(s). The suffix -cule here means “small.” Molecule literally translates to “small mass.”

What are some words that use the combining form -cule?

What are some other forms that -cule may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

Given the meaning of the suffix -cule, what does animalcule literally mean?

How to use -cule in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for -cule


suffix forming nouns
indicating smallnessanimalcule

Word Origin for -cule

from Latin -culus, diminutive suffix; compare -cle
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