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See more synonyms for stimulus on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural stim·u·li [stim-yuh-lahy] /ˈstɪm yəˌlaɪ/.
  1. something that incites to action or exertion or quickens action, feeling, thought, etc.: The approval of others is a potent stimulus.
  2. Physiology, Medicine/Medical. something that excites an organism or part to functional activity.
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Origin of stimulus

1605–15; < Latin: a goad
Related formsin·ter·stim·u·lus, noun, plural in·ter·stim·u·li.post·stim·u·lus, adjectivepre·stim·u·lus, noun, plural pre·stim·u·li.un·der·stim·u·lus, noun, plural un·der·stim·u·li.

Synonyms for stimulus

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Antonyms for stimulus

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for stimulus

impetus, stimulant, motivation, incentive, stimulation, catalyst, encouragement, fillip, instigation, incitement, urging, incitation, spur, flash, bang, sting, goad, motive, charge, boost

Examples from the Web for stimulus

Contemporary Examples of stimulus

Historical Examples of stimulus

  • She would want his companionship and the stimulus of his mind, in hers.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • Her distress was a new gratification and stimulus to her betrayer.


    William Godwin

  • The stimulus to variation may have come from the mother as well as the father.

    The Truth About Woman

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • Isolation from the mother country was a stimulus to the inventive imagination.

  • Expose him to the stimulus of necessity in an unsettled country.

British Dictionary definitions for stimulus


noun plural -li (-ˌlaɪ, -ˌliː)
  1. something that stimulates or acts as an incentive
  2. any drug, agent, electrical impulse, or other factor able to cause a response in an organism
  3. an object or event that is apprehended by the senses
  4. med a former name for stimulant
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Word Origin for stimulus

C17: from Latin: a cattle goad
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 stimulus


plural stimuli, 1680s, originally as a medical term, "something that goads a lazy organ" (often the male member), from Modern Latin stimulus "goad" (see stimulation). General sense is from 1791. Psychological sense is first recorded 1894.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

stimulus in Medicine


n. pl. stim•u•li (-lī′)
  1. A stimulant.
  2. That which can elicit or evoke an action or response in a cell, an excitable tissue, or an organism.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

stimulus in Science


Plural stimuli (stĭmyə-lī′)
  1. Physiology Something that can elicit or evoke a physiological response in a cell, a tissue, or an organism. A stimulus can be internal or external. Sense organs, such as the ear, and sensory receptors, such as those in the skin, are sensitive to external stimuli such as sound and touch.
  2. Something that has an impact or an effect on an organism so that its behavior is modified in a detectable way. See more at classical conditioning.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

stimulus in Culture


plur. stimuli (stim-yuh-leye)

An action, condition, or person that provokes a response, especially a conditioned response.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.