par·​ti·​cle | \ˈpär-ti-kəl \

Definition of particle 

1a : a minute quantity or fragment

b : a relatively small or the smallest discrete portion or amount of something

2 archaic : a clause or article of a composition or document

3 : any of the basic units of matter and energy (such as a molecule, atom, proton, electron, or photon)

4 : a unit of speech expressing some general aspect of meaning or some connective or limiting relation and including the articles, most prepositions and conjunctions, and some interjections and adverbs the particle up has a perfective meaning in phrases such as beat up and cut up

5 : a small eucharistic wafer distributed to a Roman Catholic layman at Communion

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of particle in a Sentence

There is not a particle of evidence to support their claim. There is not a particle of truth in what he said. The phrasal verb “look up” consists of the verb “look” and the adverbial particle “up.”
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In this region between the Earth’s atmosphere and space exist extremely complicated interactions between the magnetosphere, the ionosphere, and particles from the Sun. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "A Group of Scientists Want to Launch a Satellite to Make an Artificial Aurora," 29 Oct. 2018 Clean the grill with a metal brush, removing any particles from the last cookout. 5. Nancy Stohs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "5 meats to master on the grill: We went back to school to learn the best techniques," 29 May 2018 It's then laid on top of the tape, and after only a few seconds, the particles from the hydrogel transfer to the tape, breaking apart adhesive from the paper's fibers. National Geographic, "Tape Is Ruining Priceless Art. This New Gel Can Fix It.," 23 May 2018 Babb says protective masks that officials have been distributing to protect people from volcanic ash will filter particles from lava haze but not the hydrochloric acid. Jae C. Hong And Audrey Mcavoy,, "Your guide to 'laze' — the toxic lava haze now threatening Hawaiians," 22 May 2018 Babb says protective masks that officials have been distributing to protect people from volcanic ash will filter particles from lava haze but not the hydrochloric acid. Time, "Toxic Lava From Hawaii Volcano Eruption Could Threaten Nearby Power Plant," 22 May 2018 Mecklenburg had no unhealthy days in 2014 to 2016 due to a different form of air pollution, airborne particles from diesel exhaust and other sources. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "Smog rises slightly in NC cities. Here's how Charlotte ranks in the U.S. | Charlotte Observer," 18 Apr. 2018 Black carbon particles from smoke plumes can darken Greenland’s vast ice sheet, contributing to more heat absorption and more melting. Megan Gannon, Scientific American, "Greenland's Biggest Fire Is a "Warning" for Its Future," 14 Apr. 2018 Like their northern counterparts, the Southern Lights occur when electrically charged particles from solar winds enter the Earth's atmosphere and interact with gases in the atmosphere. Diana Bruk, Country Living, "Australia Experienced the Most Stunning Southern Lights On Monday Night," 29 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'particle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of particle

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for particle

Middle English, from Latin particula, from diminutive of part-, pars

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about particle

Statistics for particle

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for particle

The first known use of particle was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for particle



English Language Learners Definition of particle

: a very small piece of something

: a very small amount of something

physics : any one of the very small parts of matter (such as a molecule, atom, or electron)


par·​ti·​cle | \ˈpär-ti-kəl \

Kids Definition of particle

: a very small bit or amount of something a particle of sand a particle of sense


par·​ti·​cle | \ˈpärt-i-kəl \

Medical Definition of particle 

1 : one of the minute subdivisions of matter (as an atom or molecule) also : elementary particle

2 : a minute quantity or fragment

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on particle

What made you want to look up particle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


full of whispering sounds

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!