par·​ti·​cle | \ ˈpär-ti-kəl How to pronounce particle (audio) \

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

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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.”
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Recent Examples on the Web

The hospitals tested samples from patients’ lungs with a special dye that colors otherwise in-discernible oil particles red. oregonlive, "Oil in lungs while vaping marijuana confirmed as cause for some e-cigarette illnesses," 6 Sep. 2019 During the summer, high pressure sinks and compresses the air around us, which accelerates air particles and warms us up. Chris Bianchi, The Denver Post, "August finishes as Denver’s third-warmest on record," 2 Sep. 2019 What about cooling the ocean or seeding storms with silver hydroscopic particles? Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Hurricane Dorian storm tracker, plus your questions answered," 30 Aug. 2019 As particles shuffle and transform, a record of the past always remains encoded in the present and future. Quanta Magazine, "Philosophers Debate New ‘Sonic Black Hole’ Discovery," 27 Aug. 2019 When they are inhaled, ultra-fine particles aren’t stopped in the upper part — the nose — of the human respiratory system, Perraud said. Lilly Nguyen, Daily Pilot, "Hookah smoke isn’t a chemically safer alternative to cigarettes, UCI study says," 22 Aug. 2019 During solar-particle events, sometimes known as solar flares, radiation is especially high—though these are unusual, and often hard to plan around. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "The health risks of ultra-long-haul flights," 22 Aug. 2019 During this stage, the disease is passed directly, person to person, through airborne particles coughed from an infected person’s lungs. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Plague, explained," 20 Aug. 2019 Unlike Earth’s aurora, driven by the interaction of our magnet-like planet with the particle-rich solar wind spewed by the sun, Jupiter has aurora that would fire even without the sun. Anchorage Daily News, "‘Planet walk’ puts some things in perspective," 14 Sep. 2019

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.

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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

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Statistics for particle

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for particle

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

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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 How to pronounce particle (audio) \

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 How to pronounce particle (audio) \

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on particle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with particle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for particle

Spanish Central: Translation of particle

Nglish: Translation of particle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of particle for Arabic Speakers

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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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