• synonyms


[ spik-yool ]
/ ˈspɪk yul /


a small or minute, slender, sharp-pointed body or part; a small, needlelike crystal, process, or the like.
Zoology. one of the small, hard, calcareous or siliceous bodies that serve as the skeletal elements of various marine and freshwater invertebrates.
Astronomy. a jet of gas several hundred miles in diameter rising from the sun's surface to heights of 3000 to 6000 miles (4800 to 9600 km).

Nearby words

spick-and-span, spicula, spicular, spiculate, spiculation, spicule, spiculum, spicy, spide, spider, spider crab

Origin of spicule

1775–85; < Latin spīculum spearhead, arrowhead, bee stinger, equivalent to spīc(a) ear of grain (see spica) + -ulum -ule Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for spicule

  • The shaft of the spicule is generally slender and of considerable length.

    Freshwater Sponges, Hydroids &amp; Polyzoa|Nelson Annandale
  • The spicule thus resembles a little trumpet resting on its mouth.

  • He had found, too, that all matter—every spicule of it—is exhausted in the relation.

  • The spores soon become free, but the spicule often still adheres to them; but they are not attached to the intermingled filaments.

    Fungi: Their Nature and Uses|Mordecai Cubitt Cooke

British Dictionary definitions for spicule


/ (ˈspɪkjuːl) /


Also called: spiculum a small slender pointed structure or crystal, esp any of the calcareous or siliceous elements of the skeleton of sponges, corals, etc
astronomy a spiked ejection of hot gas occurring over 5000 kilometres above the sun's surface (in its atmosphere) and having a diameter of about 1000 kilometres
Derived Formsspiculate (ˈspɪkjʊˌleɪt, -lɪt), adjective

Word Origin for spicule

C18: from Latin: spiculum
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 spicule



1785, from French spicule, from diminutive of Latin spica (see spike (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for spicule


[ spĭkyōōl ]

n. pl. spic•ules

A needlelike structure or part.
Related formsspicu•lar (-yə-lər) null adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for spicule


[ spĭkyōōl ]

A needlelike structure or part, such as one of the mineral structures supporting the soft tissue of certain invertebrates, especially sponges.
Any of numerous short-lived vertical jets of hot gas rising from the solar chromosphere and extending into the corona. Spicules, which only last for about five to ten minutes, are usually several hundred kilometers wide and several thousand kilometers high.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.