pher·​o·​mone | \ ˈfer-ə-ˌmōn How to pronounce pheromone (audio) \

Definition of pheromone

: a chemical substance that is usually produced by an animal and serves especially as a stimulus to other individuals of the same species for one or more behavioral responses

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Other Words from pheromone

pheromonal \ ˌfer-​ə-​ˈmō-​nᵊl How to pronounce pheromonal (audio) \ adjective

Examples of pheromone in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This was a show, and now a movie, in which dancers slither around sensuously, rubbing their pheromones all over one another’s cheeks. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Cats Is Terrible, But It’s Also Kind of Great," 20 Dec. 2019 In the model, virtual ants moved randomly around a three dimensional space, picking up pieces of virtual sand soaked in a virtual pheromone. Quanta Magazine, "The Remarkable Self-Organization of Ants," 9 Apr. 2014 During this process, have your friend purchase a feline pheromone plug-in for the home. Cathy M. Rosenthal,, "Territorial cats can sometimes block new cats from using the litter box," 6 Dec. 2019 Consider buying an infuser that releases pheromones in your home. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Can Clayton’s ‘Tiger Woods’ learn to get along with his cat-mates?," 16 Sep. 2019 While that mind-set isn’t ironclad — the giant water beetle pheromone used on the raw oysters ($8 for two) is the real thing imported from Thailand — it’s given form to some unforgettable dishes. Soleil Ho,, "Bold and fearless, Nari is SF’s most exciting new restaurant," 14 Nov. 2019 They’re sent to a local sugar refinery where, one by one, townsfolk enter an ant queen’s chamber to receive a dose of brainwashing pheromones. Elizabeth Horkley, Quartz, "Our obsession with insects in horror films says a lot about our fear of destroying the planet," 30 Oct. 2019 The ravenous beetles feed off nutrients found in bark, along the way releasing pheromones that attract swarms of fellow insects, according to experts. Brandon Miller, CNN, "Here's how climate change-driven fires are changing life in the Golden State," 29 Oct. 2019 The rats had different reactions to each set of pheromones. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "NYC Has a New Secret Weapon to Defeat All the Rats," 18 Sep. 2019

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

1959, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pheromone

Greek phérein "to carry" + -o- + -mone (in hormone) — more at bear entry 2

Note: Name introduced by the German biochemist Peter Karlson (1918-2001) and the Swiss entomologist Martin Lüscher (1917-79) in "'Pheromones': a New Term for a Class of Biologically Active Substances," Nature, vol. 183, no. 4653 (January 3, 1959), pp. 55-56: "We propose, therefore, the designation 'pheromone' for this group of active substances. The name is derived from the Greek pherein, to transfer; hormōn, to excite. Pheromones are defined as substances which are secreted to the outside by an individual and received by a second individual of the same species, in which they release a specific reaction, for example, a definite behaviour or a developmental process."

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Time Traveler for pheromone

Time Traveler

The first known use of pheromone was in 1959

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Statistics for pheromone

Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pheromone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for pheromone


How to pronounce pheromone (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pheromone

biology : a chemical substance that an animal or insect produces in order to attract other animals or insects and especially a mate


pher·​o·​mone | \ ˈfer-ə-ˌmōn How to pronounce pheromone (audio) \

Medical Definition of pheromone

: a chemical substance that is produced by an animal and serves especially as a stimulus to other individuals of the same species for one or more behavioral responses

called also ectohormone

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