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[pahr-ti-kuh l] /ˈpɑr tɪ kəl/
a minute portion, piece, fragment, or amount; a tiny or very small bit:
a particle of dust; not a particle of supporting evidence.
  1. one of the extremely small constituents of matter, as an atom or nucleus.
  2. an elementary particle, quark, or gluon.
  3. a body in which the internal motion is negligible.
a clause or article, as of a document.
  1. (in some languages) one of the major form classes, or parts of speech, consisting of words that are neither nouns nor verbs, or of all uninflected words, or the like.
  2. such a word.
  3. a small word of functional or relational use, as an article, preposition, or conjunction, whether of a separate form class or not.
Roman Catholic Church. a small piece of the Host given to each lay communicant in a Eucharistic service.
Origin of particle
First recorded in 1350-1400; Middle English word from Latin word particula. See part, -i-, -cle1
Related forms
particled, adjective
interparticle, adjective
1. mite, whit, iota, jot, tittle, grain, speck. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for particle


an extremely small piece of matter; speck
a very tiny amount; iota: it doesn't make a particle of difference
a function word, esp (in certain languages) a word belonging to an uninflected class having suprasegmental or grammatical function: the Greek particles ``mēn'' and ``de'' are used to express contrast, questions in Japanese are indicated by the particle ``ka'', English ``up'' is sometimes regarded as an adverbial particle
a common affix, such as re-, un-, or -ness
(physics) a body with finite mass that can be treated as having negligible size, and internal structure
(RC Church) a small piece broken off from the Host at Mass
(archaic) a section or clause of a document
Word Origin
C14: from Latin particula a small part, from parspart
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 particle

late 14c., "small part or division of a whole, minute portion of matter," from Latin particula "little bit or part, grain, jot," diminutive of pars (genitive partis) "part;" see part (n.). Particle physics attested from 1969. In construction, particle board (1957) is so called because it is made from chips and shavings of wood.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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particle in Medicine

particle par·ti·cle (pär'tĭ-kəl)

  1. A very small piece or part.

  2. An elementary particle.

  3. A subatomic particle.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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particle in Science
  1. A very small piece of solid matter.

  2. An elementary particle, subatomic particle, or atomic nucleus. Also called corpuscle.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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