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 Operating experiments were tweaked to look for the new particle. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "New boson appears in nuclear decay, breaks standard model," 20 Dec. 2019 The particles that create the Ursid shower were shed many centuries ago from the comet 8P/Tuttle, which is due to swing by the sun again in August 2021. Andrew Fazekas, National Geographic, "Meteor outburst predicted for this weekend: When and where to see it," 20 Dec. 2019 When the iron makes contact with the active heaters, the iron particles agitate causing the pan to heat up quickly. Nicole Papantoniou, Good Housekeeping, "The Pros and Cons of Buying an Induction Stove or Cooktop," 17 Dec. 2019 The particles traveled as fast as 10 feet and ranged in size between less than an inch to 4 inches. Fox News, "Asteroid Bennu is shooting out rocks – and NASA isn't sure why," 11 Dec. 2019 The heavier particles in the smoke fall out and, in this case, discolored the snow in New Zealand, according to CNN Weather's Monica Garrett. Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN, "New Zealand's glaciers are turning red - and it's because of Australia's bushfires," 5 Dec. 2019 The particles accelerated, though, are not electrons but deuterons. The Economist, "New ways to make molybdenum-99," 23 Nov. 2019 When the current stops, the particles flip back to their unaligned positions, returning the glass to transparency. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Smart glass can save fuel, keep vehicles cooler: How it works," 26 Oct. 2019 The dust particles mix with the seasonal fog to create smog that envelops the Indian capital around this time every year. Kuwar Singh, Quartz India, "Farm fires in north India are at their lowest in eight years, but Delhi’s still choking," 14 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for particle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for particle

Last Updated

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Particle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for particle


How to pronounce particle (audio)

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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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).


good-natured easy friendliness

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