a minute or microscopic animal, nearly or quite invisible to the naked eye, as an infusorian or rotifer.
Archaic. a tiny animal, as a mouse or fly.


Nearby words

  1. animal rights,
  2. animal shelter,
  3. animal spirits,
  4. animal starch,
  5. animal warden,
  6. animalculum,
  7. animalia,
  8. animalier,
  9. animalism,
  10. animalist

Origin of animalcule

First recorded in 1590–1600, animalcule is from the New Latin word animalculum a small animal. See animal, -cule1

Related formsan·i·mal·cu·lar [an-uh-mal-kyuh-ler] /ˌæn əˈmæl kyə lər/, an·i·mal·cu·line [an-uh-mal-kyuh-lin] /ˌæn əˈmæl kyə lɪn/, an·i·mal·cu·lous, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for animalcule

British Dictionary definitions for animalcule


animalculum (ˌænɪˈmælkjʊləm)

noun plural -cules or -cula (-kjʊlə)

a microscopic animal such as an amoeba or rotifer
Derived Formsanimalcular, adjective

Word Origin for animalcule

C16: from New Latin animalculum a small animal

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

Word Origin and History for animalcule



"very small animal," especially a microscopic one, 1590s, from Late Latin animalculum, diminutive of Latin animal (see animal (n.)). Related: Animalcular.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper