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 What is the name of the private company whose Crew Dragon capsule was set to launch on Wednesday, though the mission was delayed until this weekend? CNN, "CNN 10 - May 29, 2020," 28 May 2020 The technology has advanced a great deal since the shuttle days; SpaceX's Dragon capsule is outfitted with modern touch screens and safety measures, such as an abort system, not available on the shuttle. Christian Davenport, Anchorage Daily News, "Flying astronauts has always been risky. No wonder NASA and SpaceX are on edge today.," 27 May 2020 SpaceX also has contracts with Axiom Space, which is developing a commercial module to be attached to the ISS, and with Space Adventures, which previously brokered eight tourist flights to the ISS onboard Russian Soyuz capsules. Irene Klotz, Scientific American, "Back in Business: NASA Is Set to Return to Human Spaceflight with Historic SpaceX Launch," 27 May 2020 Both deals hinge on the success of SpaceX's Dragon crew capsule in Wednesday's launch. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Why the SpaceX manned mission is critical to the private space race," 27 May 2020 Last year on Indigenous People’s Day, Carvajal launched the Cordillera Collection, a capsule collaboration with Filipino-Oakland brand Bayani Art. Ikya Kandula,, "How a Bay Area poet became obsessed with making jewelry for women of color," 27 May 2020 Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are scheduled to lift off aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 4:33 p.m. ET on a test flight to the International Space Station. NBC News, "SpaceX launch today: Countdown begins, but stormy weather looms," 27 May 2020 Astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken are set to pilot the mission, which is being flown on SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule and will dock at the International Space Station. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Historic SpaceX flight delayed due to weather," 27 May 2020 Alongside it’s extensive list of partnering designers, SSENSE is also known for curating exclusive capsules with fashion-favorites, like Louisa Ballou and Jacquemus, making their site a sure-fire way to stay ahead of the trend curve. Jamila Stewart, Essence, "Trending Items Up To 50% Off At The SSENSE Sale Right Now," 27 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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.

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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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Time Traveler for capsule

Time Traveler

The first known use of capsule was circa 1693

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Statistics for capsule

Last Updated

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Capsule.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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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