• synonyms


  1. Botany. gemma.
  2. Zoology. an asexually produced mass of cells that is capable of developing into an animal, as a freshwater sponge.
  3. Evolution. one of the hypothetical living units conceived by Darwin in the theory of pangenesis as the bearers of the hereditary attributes.
Show More

Origin of gemmule

1835–45; < French < Latin gemmula. See gemma, -ule
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gemmule

Historical Examples of gemmule

  • We can easily conceive a being so small, that a gemmule would be to it as large as St. Paul's would be to us.

    On the Genesis of Species

    St. George Mivart

  • The terminal growing bud of the axis is called the plumule or gemmule (g), and represents the ascending axis.

  • Any part of a gemmule would be an impossible (because a less than possible) quantity.

    On the Genesis of Species

    St. George Mivart

  • Darwin's Gemmule Theory is the same guessing; and Weismann rejects it because he did not think of it first.

  • As a theory the gemmule plot is just as good and just as bad scientifically as Weismann's.

British Dictionary definitions for gemmule


  1. zoology a cell or mass of cells produced asexually by sponges and developing into a new individual; bud
  2. botany a small gemma
  3. a small hereditary particle postulated by Darwin in his theory of pangenesis
Show More

Word Origin for gemmule

C19: from French, from Latin gemmula a little bud; see gem
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

gemmule in Medicine


  1. The small bud that projects from the parent cell during gemmation.
Show More
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

gemmule in Science


  1. A small gemma or similar structure, especially a reproductive structure in some sponges that remains dormant through the winter and later develops into a new individual.
Show More
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.