homunculus

[huh-muhng-kyuh-luh s, hoh-]
See more synonyms for homunculus on Thesaurus.com
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.

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


Examples from the Web for homunculus

Historical Examples of homunculus


British Dictionary definitions for homunculus

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
Former name: homuncule (həʊˈmʌŋkjuːl)
Derived Formshomuncular, adjective

Word Origin for homunculus

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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

homunculus 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.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.