animalculism

noun
an·​i·​mal·​cu·​lism | \-kyəˌlizəm\
plural -s

Definition of animalculism 

1 : a former theory in biology: various obscure physiological and pathological phenomena are caused by the activities of minute invisible animals

2 : a former theory in biology: the spermatozoon contains the whole embryo in miniature — compare ovism

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First Known Use of animalculism

1845, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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