Meaning of homunculus in English:


(also homuncule)

Pronunciation /hɒˈmʌŋkjʊləs/

nounhomunculi, homuncules

  • 1A very small human or humanoid creature.

    ‘Had Victor not abandoned his original mentors, necromancers like Paracelsus, Cornelius Agrippa, and Albertus Magnus, he might have created a harmless homunculus instead of the creature, who exacts revenge upon him.’
    • ‘In ‘Portrait of a Dwarf’, the homunculus stares back implacably at the viewer, returning our gaze while apparently indifferent to the upturned, writhing nude male in a glass cage to his left.’
    • ‘The front desk was old-school, too - a weary homunculus behind a desk, reading a newspaper, fetching your key and your messages from the slots behind him.’
    • ‘Yesterday afternoon I answered the doorbell and came face to face with an evil homunculus.’
    • ‘When I finally met the man, a pinched homunculus with nervous eyes and no eyebrows, he pushed me right out of his office.’
    • ‘As grubby and alcoholic as a homunculus can be, he is also a kind, sensitive soul and a musician of some talent.’
    • ‘I mean, some parents actually post photos of these abominable homunculi, otherwise known as babies.’
    • ‘The story itself tells how lawyers from a big corporation try to muscle in on the momentous invention of an obscure homunculus, Charles Lang, whereby engines could run on plain tap water.’
    1. 1.1historical A microscopic but fully formed human being from which a fetus was formerly believed to develop.
      ‘Yet other preformationists believed that the sperm contained the embryo and some even claimed to be able to see a tiny human - a homunculus - in the head of each human sperm.’
      • ‘In the caricatured version, preformationism has usually been ridiculed as the belief that a perfect homunculus lies within each sperm or egg cell.’
      • ‘There is no graphical representation - nothing like the tiny homunculus curled up in the head of a sperm which some of the earlier microscopists imagined they could see.’
      • ‘We've moved from imagining a little homunculus lurking in the sperm to one hiding in the genome.’


Mid 17th century from Latin, diminutive of homo, homin- ‘man’.