One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A microscopic animal.
- ‘Since animalcules were visible only under a microscope, most of the city's residents had neither seen nor heard of them.’
- ‘The lowest plant, or animalcule, feeds, grows, and reproduces its kind.’
- ‘Leeuwenhoek tried ingenious ways to estimate the size of his animalcules.’
- ‘Looking at these samples with his microscope, Leeuwenhoek reported how in his own mouth: ‘I then most always saw, with great wonder, that in the said matter there were many very little living animalcules, very prettily a-moving.’’
- ‘Three weeks later, on April 24, 1676, he discovered an incredible number of very little animalcules, marking the first sighting of bacteria.’
- ‘It is in this context that the idea of an evaluative classification came into its own, a progressive scale of nature leading from the lowest animalcules to the glory of mankind.’
Late 16th century: from modern Latin animalculum, from animal ‘an animal’ + -cule.
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