Word of the Day Archive
Friday April 22, 2011
1. An artificially made miniature person or creature, 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.
There is no little homunculus up there watching reality on a screen and then deciding how to proceed.
-- David Brooks, "When Preaching Flops," The New York Times, June 22, 2007
Goethe made the experiment famous in Faust, where an adept grows a homunculus in a bottle, but it is extremely rare in the alchemical literature.
-- James Elkins, What Painting Is
Homunculus is a borrowing from Latin, literally meaning "little person." homo- equals "man, human being," and -culus is a suffix meaning "small," from which English derives the suffix -cle.