cap·​sule | \ ˈkap-səl How to pronounce capsule (audio) , -(ˌ)sül also -ˌsyül \

Definition of capsule

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a membrane or sac enclosing a body part (such as a knee joint or kidney)
b : either of two layers of white matter in the cerebrum
2 : a closed receptacle containing spores or seeds: such as
a : a dry dehiscent usually many-seeded fruit composed of two or more carpels
b : the spore case of a moss
3 : a shell usually of gelatin for packaging something (such as a drug or vitamins) also : a usually medicinal or nutritional preparation for oral use consisting of the shell and its contents
4 : an often polysaccharide envelope surrounding a microorganism
5 : an extremely brief condensation : outline, survey capsules of history given to students
6a : a compact often sealed and detachable container or compartment
b : a small pressurized compartment or vehicle (as for space flight)


capsuled; capsuling

Definition of capsule (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to equip with or enclose in a capsule
2 : to condense into or devise in a compact form capsuled the news



Definition of capsule (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : extremely brief a capsule biography
2 : small and very compact a capsule submarine

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of capsule in a Sentence

Noun took an antibiotic capsule three times a day for a week a capsule containing all sorts of items from our era that is to be opened 100 years from now Verb newscasts that capsule complex, important stories into one-minute bits for easy digestion by viewers Adjective capsule reviews of the latest offerings at the multiplex
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The officer found a crack pipe and a blue capsule pill with no markings inside a phone box. cleveland, "Thief has surf and turf on his menu: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 26 June 2020 Their spacewalks are expected to continue through July before Behnken returns to Earth in August aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule. Marcia Dunn, Anchorage Daily News, "Spacewalking US astronaut loses mirror, creating newest piece of space junk," 26 June 2020 So far, 25 days into its mission, the capsule is performing in near flawless fashion. William Harwood, CBS News, "Astronauts gear up for Friday spacewalk amid planning for Crew Dragon return," 24 June 2020 It is scheduled to be delivered to the space station in a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo capsule in September. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "Why NASA Designed a New $23 Million Space Toilet," 22 June 2020 Over the past few decades, urbanism focussed on undoing this model, cultivating organic density through affordable housing, ever-smaller capsule studio apartments, and mixed-use zoning. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, "How the Coronavirus Will Reshape Architecture," 17 June 2020 Since then development has continued, but the capsule has largely been waiting for Boeing to complete the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "After Dragon’s historic docking, America has more new spaceships on the way," 1 June 2020 On Sunday, the SpaceX Dragon capsule pulled up to the International Space Station and docked automatically, no human pilot needed. David Clark Scott, The Christian Science Monitor, "Monday Sunrise Briefing: Nationwide protests for accountability," 1 June 2020 A few hours before docking, the Dragon riders reported that the capsule was performing beautifully. Dallas News, "SpaceX’s astronaut-riding Dragon arrives at space station," 31 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Each created a capsule collection of women’s and men’s tops, and one accessory for the chance to be included in Chase Style, the professional wardrobe worn by Chase branch employees. Nandi Howard, Essence, "ESSENCE Partners With Chase And Lands' End On Banking In Style," 18 June 2020 The safe way going forward could be capsule suites and very limited regular seating. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Southwest CEO Says It's Safe to Fly Again. Our Math Says It Isn't.," 4 May 2020 A capsule summary on Tuesday for an article about the decades-long rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar omitted the context in describing the population of Qatar. New York Times, "Corrections: June 15, 2017," 14 June 2017 Capsule previews of Saturday's high school championships in baseball, softball, lacrosse and track and field. Hartford Courant,, "Previewing Saturday's High School Championships," 9 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'capsule.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of capsule


circa 1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1859, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1938, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for capsule


French, from Latin capsula, diminutive of capsa box — more at case

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about capsule

Time Traveler for capsule

Time Traveler

The first known use of capsule was circa 1693

See more words from the same year

Statistics for capsule

Last Updated

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Capsule.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for capsule


How to pronounce capsule (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of capsule

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very small container that is filled with medicine and swallowed whole
: a small glass or plastic container that has something (such as a liquid) inside of it
: a small part of a spacecraft that is separate from the rest of the spacecraft and that is where people live and work



English Language Learners Definition of capsule (Entry 2 of 2)

: very short


cap·​sule | \ ˈkap-səl How to pronounce capsule (audio) \

Kids Definition of capsule

1 : a case enclosing the seeds or spores of a plant
2 : a small case of material that contains medicine to be swallowed
3 : a closed compartment for travel in space


cap·​sule | \ ˈkap-səl, -(ˌ)sül How to pronounce capsule (audio) \

Medical Definition of capsule

1a : a membrane or saclike structure enclosing a part or organ the capsule of the kidney
b : either of two layers or laminae of white matter in the cerebrum:
(1) : a layer that consists largely of fibers passing to and from the cerebral cortex and that lies internal to the lentiform nucleus

called also internal capsule

(2) : one that lies between the lentiform nucleus and the claustrum

called also external capsule

2 : a shell usually of gelatin for packaging something (as a drug or vitamins) also : a usually medicinal or nutritional preparation for oral use consisting of the shell and its contents
3 : a viscous or gelatinous often polysaccharide envelope surrounding certain microscopic organisms (as the pneumococcus)

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on capsule

What made you want to look up capsule? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!