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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Fresh off the launch of The Kit, a range of functional undergarments, last night saw the launch of her first clothing collection, an 18-piece capsule line designed for the online clothing rental platform Rent the Runway. Vogue, "Jamie Mizrahi Launched a Line with Rent the Runway and Decided to Celebrate With a Dinner," 8 Nov. 2019 After collaborating with close friend John Varvatos on a capsule collection last year, the pair decided to join forces and create a men’s fragrance, which was shortly followed by another scent. Kaitlyn Frey,, "Nick Jonas on His New Scent With John Varvatos, the Skincare He Steals from Wife Priyanka and More," 7 Nov. 2019 The capsule collection features jerseys, hoodies, and accessories only in black, green, and grey colorways. Jourdan Ash, Billboard, "Five Streetwear Lines Dropping the Most Heat For Fall/Winter 2019," 31 Oct. 2019 Police said chemicals were found and approximately 25,000 pills or capsules that had been prepared for distribution. Cameron Knight,, "Police: Couple made steroids in secret room in Hidden Valley home," 12 June 2019 Aimmune's clinical studies have suggested that capsules filled with peanut powder, taken over an extended period at a young age, may significantly reduce the chances of a serious allergic reaction by helping patients build up a tolerance. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "A Pioneering Peanut Allergy Treatment on the Horizon: Brainstorm Health," 16 Sep. 2019 Can’t Wait to Introduce My Wife and Son to South Africa’ Ahead of Tour Also this week, Meghan stepped out for her first work engagement since the birth of son Archie, launching a five-piece capsule collection benefitting her patronage Smart Works. Maria Pasquini,, "Prince Harry Proudly Gives a Sweet Update on 4-Month-Old Son Archie: 'He Is Getting So Big'," 14 Sep. 2019 It is carefully measured and packed into capsules or foil sachets of varying doses that can be easily opened and mixed with food. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, "For Children With Peanut Allergies, F.D.A. Experts Recommend a New Treatment," 13 Sep. 2019 Today, Duchess Meghan officially launches the Smart Set, a capsule wardrobe produced in partnership with John Lewis & Partners, Marks & Spencer, Jigsaw, and designer Misha Nonoo. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Duchess Meghan Brought the Smart Works Fashion Collection to Life," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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.

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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

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Learn More about capsule

Statistics for capsule

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for capsule

The first known use of capsule was circa 1693

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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)

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