Word of the Day

Friday, April 22, 2011

homunculus

\huh-MUHNG-kyuh-luhs\ , noun;
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.
Quotes:
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
Origin:
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.
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