ho·mun·cu·lus (hō-mŭngkyə-ləs, hə-)
n. pl. ho·mun·cu·li (-lī′)
1. A diminutive human.
2. A miniature, fully formed individual believed by adherents of the early biological theory of preformation to be present in the sperm cell.
[Latin, diminutive of homō, man; see dhghem- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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.