[ huh-muhng-kyuh-luh s, hoh- ]
/ həˈmʌŋ kyə ləs, hoʊ- /

noun, plural ho·mun·cu·li [huh-muhng-kyuh-lahy, hoh-] /həˈmʌŋ kyəˌlaɪ, hoʊ-/.

an artificially made dwarf, supposedly produced in a flask by an alchemist.
a fully formed, miniature human body believed, according to some medical theories of the 16th and 17th centuries, to be contained in the spermatozoon.
a diminutive human being.
the human fetus.

Nearby words

  1. homozygote,
  2. homozygous,
  3. homozygous by descent,
  4. homs,
  5. homuncular,
  6. homy,
  7. homyel',
  8. hon,
  9. hon.,
  10. hon. sec.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for homunculus

British Dictionary definitions for homunculus


/ (hɒˈmʌŋkjʊləs) /

noun plural -li (-ˌlaɪ)

a miniature man; midget
(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



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

Medicine definitions for homunculus


[ hō-mŭngkyə-ləs, hə- ]

n. pl. ho•mun•cu•li (-lī′)

A diminutive human.
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.