1. A very small piece or part; a tiny portion or speck.
2. A very small or the smallest possible amount, trace, or degree: not a particle of doubt.
a. A body whose spatial extent and internal motion and structure, if any, are irrelevant in a specific problem.
b. See elementary particle.
c. See subatomic particle.
a. An uninflected item that has grammatical function but does not clearly belong to one of the major parts of speech, such as up in He looked up the word or to in English infinitives.
b. In some systems of grammatical analysis, any of various short function words, including articles, prepositions, and conjunctions.
5. Ecclesiastical A portion or fragment of the Eucharistic host.
6. Archaic A small part of something written, such as a clause of a document.
[Middle English, from Latin particula, diminutive of pars, part-, part; see PART.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.