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

  • n. An optical instrument that uses a lens or a combination of lenses to produce magnified images of small objects, especially of objects too small to be seen by the unaided eye.
  • n. An instrument, such as an electron microscope, that uses electronic or other processes to magnify objects.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An optical instrument used for observing small objects.
  • n. Any instrument for imaging very small objects (such as an electron microscope).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj.
  • n. An optical instrument, consisting of a lens, or combination of lenses, for making an enlarged image of an object which is too minute to be viewed by the naked eye.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To enlarge with or as with a microscope; examine very minutely as with a microscope: as, to microscope one's faults.
  • n. An optical instrument consisting of a lens or combination of lenses (in some cases mirrors also) which magnifies and thus renders visible minute objects that cannot be seen by the naked eye, or enlarges the apparent magnitude of small visible bodies, so as to render possible the examination of their texture or structure.
  • n. [capitalized] A constellation. See Microscopium.

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

  • n. magnifier of the image of small objects


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From New Latin microscopium, from Ancient Greek μικρός ("small") + σκοπέω ("I look at").



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  • "There can be no doubt, however, that Leeuwenhoek was a master when it came to the microscope. No one knows why he took an interest in the invention, but he may have begun by experimenting with the weak magnifying glasses that drapers commonly used to detect flaws in fabric. In a surprisingly short time Leeuwenhoek became an expert lens grinder and glass-blower. Although he built only single-lens microscopes, they were superior to all others of the period, including the compound ones that used several lenses to boost their viewing power. ... For clarity and power, it soon became evident that Leeuwenhoek's microscopes could not be equaled. One Leeuwenhoek lens, now held by the University of Utrecht Museum, was capable of portraying structures only 0.00075 millimeters thick--a feat not equaled until the 19th century.

    "Fearing that he would lose his tenuous place in the scientific world if he revealed his secrets, Leeuwenhoek refused to share his methods of magnification with anyone; to this day, we do not fully understand his techniques. His observations, however, were a different matter; he shared them with any number of friends and colleagues."

    Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 145.

    See also another note on Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.

    October 6, 2017