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homunculus

[huh-muhng-kyuh-luh s, hoh-] /həˈmʌŋ kyə ləs, hoʊ-/
noun, plural homunculi
[huh-muhng-kyuh-lahy, hoh-] /həˈmʌŋ kyəˌlaɪ, hoʊ-/ (Show IPA)
1.
an artificially made dwarf, supposedly produced in a flask by an alchemist.
2.
a fully formed, miniature human body believed, according to some medical theories of the 16th and 17th centuries, to be contained in the spermatozoon.
3.
a diminutive human being.
4.
the human fetus.
Origin
1650-1660
1650-60; < Latin, equivalent to homun- (variant of homin-, stem of homō man; see Homo) + -culus -cule1
Related forms
homuncular, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for homunculus
  • There is no little homunculus up there watching reality on a screen and then deciding how to proceed.
  • And he points out that exactly the same problem applies to how the homunculus would perceive its own qualia.
  • It's that damned old homunculus problem and an infinite regress.
  • He is a homunculus hatched out of a seething medium of bile and bounced checks.
British Dictionary definitions for homunculus

homunculus

/hɒˈmʌŋkjʊləs/
noun (pl) -li (-ˌlaɪ)
1.
a miniature man; midget
2.
(in early biological theory) a fully-formed miniature human being existing in a spermatozoon or egg
Former name homuncule (həʊˈmʌŋkjuːl)
Derived Forms
homuncular, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, diminutive of homo man
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for homunculus
n.

1650s, from Latin homunculus, literally "little person," from homo (genitive hominis) "man, human being," the Latin word that means "man, person, a human being" (technically "male human," but in logical and scholastic writing "human being"), also "the human race, mankind," perhaps from PIE *(dh)ghomon-, literally "earthling," from *dhghem- "earth" (see chthonic; also cf. human). With -culus, Latin diminutive suffix. Other Latin diminutives from homo included homullus, homuncio.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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homunculus in Medicine

homunculus ho·mun·cu·lus (hō-mŭng'kyə-ləs, hə-)
n. pl. ho·mun·cu·li (-lī')

  1. A diminutive human.

  2. A miniature, fully formed individual which adherents of the early biological theory of preformation believed to be present in the sperm cell.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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