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[mol-uh-kyool] /ˈmɒl əˌkyul/
Chemistry, Physics. the smallest physical unit of an element or compound, consisting of one or more like atoms in an element and two or more different atoms in a compound.
Chemistry. a quantity of a substance, the weight of which, measured in any chosen unit, is numerically equal to the molecular weight; gram molecule.
any very small particle.
Origin of molecule
1785-95; earlier molecula < New Latin, equivalent to Latin mōlē(s) mass + -cula -cule1
Related forms
submolecule, noun
supermolecule, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for molecule
  • Plants grow using the hydrogen part of the water molecule.
  • They put a smaller structure inside it called a heme, a large flat molecule that is the active part of hemoglobin.
  • All molecules are moving, even in ice and other solids, such as steel.
  • Remove that molecule and the cobra becomes toxin-sensitive.
  • Many know a molecule is small, but they do not know how small it is compared with a cell or an atom.
  • When water is a gas - vapor - the molecules are free to move about.
  • Tuberculosis is hard to defeat in part because it produces a molecule that can destroy many antibiotics.
  • Most of what is known as computational chemistry, especially as applied to large molecules.
  • Nope, to kick start life only requires the assembly of a single self-replicating molecule.
  • The result was an output molecule.
British Dictionary definitions for molecule


the simplest unit of a chemical compound that can exist, consisting of two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds
a very small particle
Word Origin
C18: via French from New Latin mōlēcula, diminutive of Latin mōlēs mass, mole4
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 molecule

1794, "extremely minute particle," from French molécule (1670s), from Modern Latin molecula, diminutive of Latin moles "mass, barrier" (see mole (3)). A vague meaning at first; the vogue for the word (used until late 18c. only in Latin form) can be traced to the philosophy of Descartes. First used of Modern Latin molecula in modern scientific sense by Amedeo Avogadro (1811).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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molecule in Medicine

molecule mol·e·cule (mŏl'ĭ-kyōōl')
The smallest particle into which an element or a compound can be divided without changing its chemical and physical properties; a group of atoms that is held together chemically.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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molecule in Science
A group of two or more atoms linked together by sharing electrons in a chemical bond. Molecules are the fundamental components of chemical compounds and are the smallest part of a compound that can participate in a chemical reaction.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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molecule in Culture
molecule [(mol-uh-kyoohl)]

A combination of two or more atoms held together by a force between them. (See covalent bond and ionic bond.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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