1. A small gemma or similar structure, especially a reproductive structure in certain sponges that remains dormant for some time and later develops into a new individual.
2. A hypothetical particle in the theory of pangenesis, postulated to be produced by cells and to be responsible for transmitting traits from parent to offspring.
[French, from Latin gemmula, diminutive of gemma, bud; see gembh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
gem′mu·lifer·ous (jĕm′y-lĭfər-əs) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.