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Related to animalcules: spontaneous generation, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, Protozoa


Term used by believers in the preformation theory to designate the supposed miniature body contained in a gamete. See: homunculus.
[Mod. L. animalculum, dim. of L. animal, a living being]


(ăn′ə-măl′kyo͞ol) also


n. pl. animal·cules also animal·cula (-kyə-lə)
A microscopic or minute organism, such as an amoeba or paramecium, usually considered to be an animal.


An obsolete, nonspecific term for:
(1) Any microscopic organism; 
(2) Any “core” organism of the now-discarded preformation theory.
References in periodicals archive ?
A medical student, Johan Ham, was the first to see animalcules (spermatozoa) in human semen, and he drew this to Leeuwenhoek's attention.
Leeuwenhoek tried ingenious ways to estimate the size of his animalcules.
I examined it, and perceived some of the Animalcules lying closely heaped together.
His Majesty, founder and patron of the Royal Society, has not issued a direct comment but, according to Hooke, is desirous of observing the animalcules for himself.