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 pheromone (audio) \ adjective

Examples of pheromone in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web After setting them up near hornet colonies in China's Yunnan province, the researchers found that the queen-equivalent pheromone was the most successful. Megan Marples, CNN, 15 Mar. 2022 The trees release aromatic compounds called terpenes to deter the beetles, but the beetles are able to convert some terpenes into a pheromone that attracts more beetles and can initiate a mass attack. Greg Miller, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Dec. 2021 The researchers also noted that when bees create the sound with their thoraxes and wings, a pheromone-producing gland is exposed and may employ other communication strategies to rally more bees when undergoing an attack. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 11 Nov. 2021 Another idea might be to use another kind of pheromone the beetles produce, one that lets their compatriots know when space has run out. Jennifer Clare Ball, Wired, 17 Dec. 2021 The bee raised its abdomen while rapidly buzzing its wings and exposing its Nasonov gland, which releases a pheromone used to guide bees back to a hive. Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2021 Scientists have hypothesized that Fel d 1 may act like a pheromone for social signaling. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, 5 Nov. 2021 There are two types of scents that these traps use: a pheromone that attracts males and a floral scent that brings in males and females. Jennifer Aldrich, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 July 2021 One hypothesis, Marshall said, is that dominant females produce a pheromone that acts as a cue. Katie Hunt, CNN, 23 June 2021 See More

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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The first known use of pheromone was in 1959

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Last Updated

3 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pheromone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for pheromone


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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