infinitesimal was our Word of the Day on 10/09/2014. Hear the podcast!
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Origin and Etymology of infinitesimal
First Known Use: 1706See Words from the same year
Definition of infinitesimal
- an infinitesimal difference
infinitesimallyplay \(ˌ)in-ˌfi-nə-ˈte-sə-mə-lē, -zə-mə-\ adverb
Examples of infinitesimal in a Sentence
an infinitesimal moment in time
a soft drink with only an infinitesimal amount of caffeine
Recent Examples of infinitesimal from the Web
These ripples in space will alternately expand and contract the distance between two objects by an infinitesimal amount—but one sufficient for our most sensitive instruments to pick up.
He and Bergé were selling the ready-to-wear and fragrance portions of their business to Gucci Group, while retaining the infinitesimal haute-couture house for themselves.
But the chances an extraterrestrial will ever find the probe seem infinitesimal.
Your chances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time are infinitesimal.
Gravitational waves move the mirrors to an infinitesimal degree.
Take into account that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday is named the Apache Warrior 400, and chances are infinitesimal unless a competitor was truly seeking the most visible stage possible in NASCAR to make a point.
That makes the chances of a further appeal infinitesimal, and the $1.6 million figure is likely final.
And so far, much of the action of this short seventh season has rattled pieces around the chessboard rapidly, but shown only infinitesimal real forward movement.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'infinitesimal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
What is the origin of infinitesimal?
Infinite, as you probably know, means "endless" or "extending indefinitely." It is ultimately from Latin infinitus, the opposite of finitus, meaning "finite." The notion of smallness in infinitesimal derives from the mathematical concept that a quantity can be divided endlessly; no matter how small, it can be subdivided into yet smaller fractions, or "infinitesimals." The concept was still in its infancy in 1710 when Irish philosopher George Berkeley observed that some people "assert there are infinitesimals of infinitesimals of infinitesimals, etc., without ever coming to an end." He used the adjective in a mathematical sense, too, referring to "infinitesimal parts of finite lines." Less than a quarter century later, the adjective had acquired a general sense applicable to anything too small to be measured.
First Known Use of infinitesimal
Synonymsatomic, bitsy, bitty, tiny, itty-bitty (or itsy-bitsy), little bitty, microminiature, microscopic (also microscopical), miniature, minuscule, minute, teensy, teensy-weensy, teeny, teeny-weeny, wee, weeny (also weensy)
Antonymsastronomical (also astronomic), colossal, cosmic (also cosmical), elephantine, enormous, giant, gigantic, herculean, heroic (also heroical), huge, immense, mammoth, massive, monster, monstrous, monumental, mountainous, planetary, prodigious, titanic, tremendous
Related Wordsbaby, diminutive, dwarf, elfin, half-pint, Lilliputian, little, micro, mini, minikin, model, petite, pocket, pocket-size (also pocket-sized), pygmy, small, smallish; dinky, dwarfish, insignificant, pint-size (or pint-sized), puny, scrubby, undersized (also undersize)
Near Antonymsbig, bulky, bumper, considerable, extensive, good, goodly, grand, great, gross, handsome, hefty, hulking, jumbo, king-size (or king-sized), large, largish, major, outsize (also outsized), overgrown, overscale (or overscaled), oversize (or oversized), sizable (or sizeable), substantial, super, whacking, whopping; formidable, grandiose, imposing, lofty, majestic, monolithic, staggering, stupendous, towering; boundless, cavernous, immeasurable, infinite, vast, vasty, voluminous
INFINITESIMAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of infinitesimal for English Language Learners
: extremely small
INFINITESIMAL Defined for Kids
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