homunculus

noun
ho·​mun·​cu·​lus | \ hō-ˈməŋ-kyə-ləs How to pronounce homunculus (audio) \
plural homunculi\ hō-​ˈməŋ-​kyə-​ˌlī How to pronounce homunculus (audio) , -​ˌlē \

Definition of homunculus

1 : a little man : manikin
2 : a miniature adult that in the theory of preformation is held to inhabit the germ cell and to produce a mature individual merely by an increase in size

Examples of homunculus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Maxwell posited a tiny homunculus that could cordon off hotter, faster molecules from colder, slower ones. Washington Post, "The shadowy spirits that helped advance science," 24 Dec. 2020 And along comes Robert Frank, the hairy homunculus, the European Jew with his 35-mm. Philip Gefter, New York Times, "Robert Frank Dies; Pivotal Documentary Photographer Was 94," 10 Sep. 2019 The book culminates with Christian’s involvement in complex laboratory preparations, including the creation of a bird that is then killed; its ashes are used to make two homunculi, which, in the laboratory, grow to become the bridal couple. Peter Bebergal, The New Yorker, "Reimagining a Shadowy Medieval Brotherhood That Probably Didn’t Exist," 26 Oct. 2016

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

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for homunculus

Latin, diminutive of homin-, homo human being — more at homage

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Time Traveler for homunculus

Time Traveler

The first known use of homunculus was in 1656

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Cite this Entry

“Homunculus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homunculus. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for homunculus

homunculus

noun
ho·​mun·​cu·​lus | \ hō-ˈməŋ-kyə-ləs How to pronounce homunculus (audio) \
plural homunculi\ -​ˌlī How to pronounce homunculus (audio) , -​ˌlē How to pronounce homunculus (audio) \

Medical Definition of homunculus

: a miniature adult that in the theory of preformation was held to inhabit the germ cell and to produce a mature individual merely by an increase in size

More from Merriam-Webster on homunculus

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for homunculus

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about homunculus

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