Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A diminutive human.
  • n. A miniature, fully formed individual believed by adherents of the early biological theory of preformation to be present in the sperm cell.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A little man.
  • n. The nerve map of the human body that exists on the parietal lobe of the human brain.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A little man; a dwarf; a manikin.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A tiny human being that may be produced (according to a fancy of Paracelsus) artificially, without a natural mother.
  • n. A little man; a dwarf.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a tiny fully formed individual that (according to the discredited theory of preformation) is supposed to be present in the sperm cell
  • n. a person who is very small but who is not otherwise deformed or abnormal

Etymologies

Latin, diminutive of homō, man; see dhghem- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin homunculus, diminutive of homō ("man"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The homunculus is the mapping of the body into the motor cortex, which is a portion of the brain located approximately under the portion of the scalp that would be occupied by a Mohawk hairdo.

    On the Threshold of the Avatar Era

  • York that the future bride of the famous homunculus is Miss Lavinia Warren, twenty-one inches high, and granddaughter of General Warren, who was killed at the battle of Bunker's Hill.

    General Tom Thumb

  • As he watches, the outlines of a diminutive human being -- a mannikin or 'homunculus' -- become visible and rapidly gain distinct form.

    The Faust-Legend and Goethe's 'Faust'

  • The following medical illustration, called a homunculus, is a graphic representation of the large area of the brain that is associated with hand movement.

    Meditation as Medicine

  • What has come to be known as the homunculus theory of vision has long been discredited.

    Detaching the Retina

  • 'homunculus' -- in the conviction, as he asserted, that 'in course of time chemistry is bound to succeed in producing organic bodies and in creating a human being by means of crystallization' -- an assertion not very different from that of a still more trustworthy scientist, for

    The Faust-Legend and Goethe's 'Faust'

  • As Wilder Penfield discovered in the 1950s, much of the brain is connected not to the sensors along the body's surface (skin, eyes, ears) but instead to a representation of the body (the "homunculus") that is mapped directly onto the surface of the brain.

    Architecture and Memory: The Renaissance Studioli of Federico da Montefeltro

  • It can stand as a kind of homunculus to Penny's full-formed person.

    An Althouse blog fund-raiser.

  • You'll either be enthralled or bored to tears, but you'll know exactly what a "homunculus" is, and in context, not just from a dry, dusty dictionary definition.

    Paglia's purple piffle.

  • In its place, Dennett offers his own theory of what goes on in there, employing the metaphor of a "homunculus," the tiny dwarf supposedly created in an alchemist's test tube.

    Is The Mind An Illusion?

Comments

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  • "Sil idly scooped up another handful from his tub and kneaded it. The water responded like clay, holding the shape Sil gave it. Scraps of the dirt and discoloration of the tub eddied inside it. Sil pinched the figure's face and made a nose, squeezed the legs to the size of small sausages. He perched the little homunculus in front of Isaac." From Perdido Street Station by China Mieville.

    September 21, 2011

  • "...that instead of writing about human love, Wallace speaks of an abstract idea of love anthropomorphized as a 'homunculus.'" - http://www.slate.com/id/2291167/

    April 23, 2011

  • Already we have turned all of our critical industries, all of our material resources, over to these...things...these lumps of silver and paste we call nanorobots. And now we propose to teach them intelligence? What, pray tell, will we do when these little homunculi awaken one day and announce that they have no further need of us?

    -- Sister Miriam Godwinson,
    "We Must Dissent"

    August 15, 2008

  • OK, so I more like the concept of a homunculus than the actual word, but it's fairly descriptive.

    December 8, 2006