Usually in plural. Each of the smallest natural particles of matter of which all bodies or objects were considered to be composed, the existence of which was first proposed by Aristotle.
Earliest in figurative context in a work satirically describing human romantic relationships in scientific vocabulary.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Johnson (fl. 1641), writer and poet. From post-classical Latin minimum naturale from classical Latin minimum + naturale, neuter of naturalis.