particle


particle
particle 1 Particle, bit, mite, smidgen, whit, atom, iota, jot, tittle all mean a very small or insignificant piece or part.
Particle is used in reference not only to substances which are actually divisible but to such things as a quality, a state, or a condition which are only theoretically so because they are intangible or ideal; usually it implies an amount within the range of visual or mental perception
{

a particle of matter

}
{

he hasn't a particle of sense

}
{

her face was . . . beaded with small particles of rain— Wolfe

}
{

there is not a particle of truth in any of these statements— Ashley Montagu

}
Bit usually suggests a relatively minute or the least feasible amount, extent, or degree
{

own a bit of land

}
{

he doesn't like it a bit

}
{

he is a bit of a coward

}
{

distinction on the basis of sex is the only bit of gender we have left— Laird

}
{

little trifling useless bits of deceit— Black

}
{

if one wished to indulge in a bit of sentimentality, one could say that the truths of science become obsolete . . . but that the truth of the arts is everlasting— Boas

}
Mite may stress either diminutiveness in size or minuteness in amount
{

a mite of a boy

}
{

a mite of a diamond

}
{

he hasn't a mite of suspicion

}
{

only a mite of what it could have taught was seen and learned— Fitzsimmons

}
Smidgen may replace bit or mite
{

yearning ... for a smidgen of Broadway glamour— New Yorker

}
but sometimes and especially in negative constructions it may go even farther in stressing minuteness or scarcity
{

ate squirrel and rabbit, broiled over hot coals, for there was not a smidgen of grease left— Atlantic

}
Whit is used chiefly in negative phrases in the sense of the least conceivable amount
{

it matters not a whit

}
{

he hasn't a whit of knowledge of the subject

}
{

the civilized man is not a whit different from the savage in this respect— Henry Miller

}
Atom (see also PARTICLE 2) implies an amount or a size beyond the possibility of further diminution
{

not an atom of dust escaped her scrutiny

}
{

it hasn't an atom of seriousness about it—a mere footnote to history— Laski

}
Iota and jot both imply a minuteness suggestive of the character iota , the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet, while tittle, used chiefly in the phrase [i]jot or tittle, implies a minuteness suggestive of a small diacritical mark such as the dot over an /; the three are used interchangeably to mean the smallest or most minute detail or amount
{

he hasn't added a jot, an iota, or a tittle to our knowledge of the subject

}
lota, however, sometimes denotes an insignificant amount, extent, or degree
{

of statesmanship he had not an iota— S. H. Adams

}
{

he who adds a jot to such knowledge creates new mind— Shaw

}
{

he meant not to lose one tittle of enjoyment— Churchill

}
2 Particle, corpuscle, atom, molecule in technical physical or chemical use can mean a submicroscopic division of matter.
Particle, the oldest and most general of these terms, is applied especially to any of certain minute entities which have more specific designations such as ion, molecule, atom, electron, proton, and alpha particle. Particle is often used to emphasize the idea of indivisibility, commonly suggesting the entities (as protons, neutrons, and electrons) of which all matter is believed to be composed.
Corpuscle may be interchangeable with particle
{

they [alpha particles] are corpuscles endowed with charge, with mass, and with velocity— Darrow

}
but more often it is specifically equivalent to elementary particle and may be applied to energy quanta (as photons or phonons) when these are considered as particulate entities
{

let us assume that all lighted bodies emit particles of light, or corpuscles, which, falling on our eyes, create the sensation of light— Einstein & Infeld

}
According to the common modern concept, an atom is the smallest particle of an element that can exist either alone or in combination with smaller particles of the same or of a different element
{

an atom of hydrogen

}
Molecule denotes the smallest particle of an element or of a chemical combination (as a compound) that retains chemical identity with the substance in mass. Molecules are usually composed of two or more atoms, either of the same or of different elements
{

a molecule of water is composed of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen

}

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Particle — may refer to:In chemistry: * Colloidal particle, part of a one phase system of two or more componentsIn physics: * Subatomic particle, which may be either: **Elementary particle, a particle of which larger particles are composed, also called a… …   Wikipedia

  • Particle — Par ti*cle, n. [L. particula, dim. of pars, gen partis, a part: cf. F. particule. See {Part}, and cf. {Parcel}.] 1. A minute part or portion of matter; a morsel; a little bit; an atom; a jot; as, a particle of sand, of wood, of dust. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • particle — [pärt′i kəl] n. [ME partycle < MFr particule < L particula, dim. of pars,PART1] 1. a) an extremely small piece; tiny fragment [a dust particle] b) the slightest trace; speck [not a particle of truth] 2 …   English World dictionary

  • particle — (n.) late 14c., small part or division of a whole, from L. particula little bit or part, dim. of pars (gen. partis); see PART (Cf. part) (n.). In construction, particle board (1957) is so called because it is made from chips and shavings of wood …   Etymology dictionary

  • particle — index constituent (part), element, iota, minimum, modicum, part (portion), scintilla …   Law dictionary

  • particle — [n] atom, piece bit, crumb, dot, dribble, drop, fleck, fragment, grain, hoot*, iota, jot, minim, mite, modicum, molecule, morsel, mote, ounce, ray, scrap, scruple, seed, shred, smidgen, smithereen, speck, spot, stitch, whit; concept 831 …   New thesaurus

  • particle — ► NOUN 1) a minute portion of matter. 2) Physics a component of the physical world smaller than an atom, e.g. an electron, proton, neutrino, or photon. 3) Grammar a minor function word that has comparatively little meaning and does not inflect, e …   English terms dictionary

  • particle — particled, adj. /pahr ti keuhl/, n. 1. a minute portion, piece, fragment, or amount; a tiny or very small bit: a particle of dust; not a particle of supporting evidence. 2. Physics. a. one of the extremely small constituents of matter, as an atom …   Universalium

  • particle — [[t]pɑ͟ː(r)tɪk(ə)l[/t]] particles 1) N COUNT: oft N of n A particle of something is a very small piece or amount of it. ...a particle of hot metal... There is a particle of truth in his statement. ...food particles. 2) N COUNT In physics, a… …   English dictionary

  • particle */*/ — UK [ˈpɑː(r)tɪk(ə)l] / US [ˈpɑrtɪk(ə)l] noun [countable] Word forms particle : singular particle plural particles 1) an extremely small piece or amount of something dust particles particle of: tiny particles of food There s not a particle of… …   English dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.