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 There were studies, based on observed behaviors, that suggested human beings might be capable of emitting and sensing alarm pheromones. Eva Holland, Time, "How Fear Can Spread Like a Virus," 17 Mar. 2020 Most pheromones are single chemicals, says Charles Snowdon, an emeritus psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not involved with the work. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Male lemurs may spread fruity ‘love potions’ with their tails," 16 Apr. 2020 Potential substitutes that are generally considered to be lower-risk pest management options include microbials (pesticides with a microorganism as the active ingredient), pheromones and beneficial insects. Melanie Bateman, The Conversation, "A global mask shortage may leave farmers and farm workers exposed to toxic pesticides," 27 Apr. 2020 Wen speculated that less of the pheromones were being released into the air after a bee died and its body temperature decreased. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "How ‘undertaker’ bees recognize dead comrades," 20 Mar. 2020 Another theory around the purpose of pubic hair has to do with pheromones, or chemicals your body produces that send subconscious messages to other human animals, including potential mates. Zahra Barnes, SELF, "The Truth About the Purpose of Pubic Hair," 9 Mar. 2020 IUCN Iguana Specialist Group Jamaican iguanas have pores on the undersides of their thighs that release pheromones. National Geographic, "Jamaican iguana," 3 Mar. 2020 The pheromones can be distributed through collars, scent diffusers, wipes, or sprays; just make sure to buy for the right species! Hannah Harper,, "Have a Stressed Out Pet? Here Are 4 Ways to Help," 15 Apr. 2020 For example, in some species males’ wings harbour special cells that release pheromones which attract females. The Economist, "Entomology There is more to a butterfly’s wing than meets the eye," 30 Jan. 2020

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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Last Updated

14 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pheromone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 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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