elementary particle


Definition of elementary particle

: any of the particles of which matter and energy are composed or which mediate the fundamental forces of nature especially : one whose existence has not been attributed to the combination of other more fundamental entities

Examples of elementary particle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Physicists have detected the strongest evidence yet of a behavioral difference between elementary particles called neutrinos and their mirror-image twins, antineutrinos. Quanta Magazine, "Neutrino Asymmetry Passes Critical Threshold," 15 Apr. 2020 The theorem, simply put, is this: If physicists have free will while performing experiments, then elementary particles possess free will as well. Siobhan Roberts, BostonGlobe.com, "John Horton Conway, a ‘magical genius’ in math, dies at 82," 19 Apr. 2020 The answer might involve very strange elementary particles known as neutrinos, which don’t have electrical charge and can thus act as either matter or antimatter. Yasemin Saplakoglu, Scientific American, "“Cosmic String” Gravitational Waves Could Solve Antimatter Mystery," 3 Mar. 2020 The fast particles would have subsequently decayed into the quarks, electrons and other elementary particles that exist today. Quanta Magazine, "The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow," 1 Aug. 2019 Physicists hope that slight anomalies could reveal previously unknown elementary particles. Davide Castelvecchi, Scientific American, "Watch Out for These Science Events in 2020," 30 Dec. 2019 The discovery filled in the last missing piece of the Standard Model, the spectacularly successful—albeit incomplete—theory that describes three of the four fundamental forces in physics and all known elementary particles. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "These are the top 20 scientific discoveries of the decade," 5 Dec. 2019 Protons, meanwhile, are composite particles, meaning they're compromised of two or more elementary particles. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "'Car Crash' Experiment Opens Up a New Frontier of Physics," 11 Oct. 2019 Quarks and gluons are two such elementary particles that combine to form protons and neutrons. Nandita Jayaraj, Quartz India, "Meet Indumathi, the Indian scientist who wants to capture one of the universe’s smallest particles," 27 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elementary particle.' 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 elementary particle

1934, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of elementary particle was in 1934

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Last Updated

18 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Elementary particle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elementary%20particle. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for elementary particle

elementary particle


English Language Learners Definition of elementary particle

physics : a particle (such as an electron or proton) that is smaller than an atom and does not appear to be made up of a combination of more basic things

elementary particle


Medical Definition of elementary particle

1 : any of the particles of which matter and energy are composed or which mediate the fundamental forces of nature especially : one (as the photon or the electron) whose existence has not been attributed to the combination of other more fundamental entities
2 : one of the structural units of mitochondrial cristae that are observable by the electron microscope usually as spheres or stalked spheres and are probably the seat of fundamental energy-producing reactions

More from Merriam-Webster on elementary particle

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about elementary particle

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