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homunculus

[huh-muhng-kyuh-luh s, hoh-]
noun, plural ho·mun·cu·li [huh-muhng-kyuh-lahy, hoh-] /həˈmʌŋ kyəˌlaɪ, hoʊ-/.
  1. an artificially made dwarf, supposedly produced in a flask by an alchemist.
  2. a fully formed, miniature human body believed, according to some medical theories of the 16th and 17th centuries, to be contained in the spermatozoon.
  3. a diminutive human being.
  4. the human fetus.
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Origin of homunculus

1650–60; < Latin, equivalent to homun- (variant of homin-, stem of homō man; see Homo) + -culus -cule1
Related formsho·mun·cu·lar, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for homuncular

homunculus

noun plural -li (-ˌlaɪ)
  1. a miniature man; midget
  2. (in early biological theory) a fully-formed miniature human being existing in a spermatozoon or egg
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Former name: homuncule (həʊˈmʌŋkjuːl)
Derived Formshomuncular, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from Latin, diminutive of homo man
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 homuncular

adj.

1822, from homunculus + -ar.

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homunculus

n.

1650s, from Latin homunculus, literally "little person," from homo (genitive hominis) "man, human being," the Latin word that means "man, person, a human being" (technically "male human," but in logical and scholastic writing "human being"), also "the human race, mankind," perhaps from PIE *(dh)ghomon-, literally "earthling," from *dhghem- "earth" (see chthonic; also cf. human). With -culus, Latin diminutive suffix. Other Latin diminutives from homo included homullus, homuncio.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

homuncular in Medicine

homunculus

(hō-mŭngkyə-ləs, hə-)
n. pl. ho•mun•cu•li (-lī′)
  1. A diminutive human.
  2. A miniature, fully formed individual which adherents of the early biological theory of preformation believed to be present in the sperm cell.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.