from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A microscopic or minute organism, such as an amoeba or paramecium, usually considered to be an animal.
  • noun Archaic A tiny animal, such as a mosquito.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Any little animal, as a mouse, insect, etc.
  • noun A minute or microscopic animal, nearly or quite invisible to the naked eye, as an infusorian or rotifer; an animalculum: as, the bell-animalcule, a ciliate infusorian of the family Vorticellidæ; wheel-animalcule, a rotifer; bear-animalcule, a minute arachnidan of the order Arctisca. See cuts under Arctisca, Rotifera, and Vorticella.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A small animal, as a fly, spider, etc.
  • noun (Zoöl.) An animal, invisible, or nearly so, to the naked eye. See Infusoria.
  • noun See Spermatozoa.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun dated A minute or microscopic animal or protozoan.
  • noun archaic A tiny animal, as a mouse or insect (fly, mosquito, midge).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun microscopic organism such as an amoeba or paramecium


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[New Latin animalculum, diminutive of Latin animal, animal; see animal.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Latin animal + the diminutive suffix -culum


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  • For instance, there is the word animalcule (plural animalcules), also written animalculum (plural animalcula).

    Literary Blunders; A chapter in the "History of Human Error" 1893

  • Of voluntary capacities and powers the newborn infant possesses little more than the simplest unicellular animalcule, that is, about all it can do is to scent and swallow food.

    Nature Cure Henry Lindlahr 1893

  • The microscope cannot find the animalcule which is less perfect for being little.

    V. Essays. Compensation. 1841 1909

  • These movements are termed amoebiform, because they quite resemble the movements of a small animalcule which is named amoeba.

    Young Folks' Library, Volume XI (of 20) Wonders of Earth, Sea and Sky Various 1880

  • The microscope cannot find the animalcule which is less perfect for being little.

    Essays — First Series Ralph Waldo Emerson 1842

  • The microscope cannot find the animalcule which is less perfect for being little.

    Essays: First Series (1841) 1841

  • In the vast cosmic exchanges the universal life goes and comes in unknown quantities, rolling entirely in the invisible mystery of effluvia, employing everything, not losing a single dream, not a single slumber, sowing an animalcule here, crumbling to bits a planet there, oscillating and winding, making of light

    Les Miserables 2008

  • The reefs of the Pacific, the deep-sea soundings of the Atlantic, show that it is to the slow-growing coral and to the imperceptible animalcule, which lives its brief space and then adds its tiny shell to the muddy cairn left by its brethren and ancestors, that we must look as the agents in the formation of limestone and chalk, and not to hypothetical oceans saturated with calcareous salts and suddenly depositing them.

    Essays 2007

  • There is no matematical or physic law which can explain a primitive life form such as a animalcule.

    Why biology is harder than physics Rosie Redfield 2007

  • Perhaps there is some microscopic animalcule of which Medicine and Science are not yet aware which invaded the tins during transit or even at Goldner's victualling factory.

    The Terror Simmons, Dan 2007


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  • At the idle aqueduct, scribbled over with weed now,

    Grandfather would find an abundance of animalcules...

    - Peter Reading, Early Closing, from For the Municipality's Elderly, 1974

    June 22, 2008