particle

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle French particule, and its source, Latin particula (small part, particle), diminutive of pars (part, piece).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

particle (plural particles)

  1. A very small piece of matter, a fragment; especially, the smallest possible part of something. [from 14th c.]
  2. (linguistics) A word that has a particular grammatical function but does not obviously belong to any particular part of speech, such as the word to in English infinitives or O as the vocative particle. [from 16th c.]
    • 1965 June 4, Shigeyuki Kuroda, “Generative grammatical studies in the Japanese language”, DSpace@MIT, accessed on 2014-02-24:
      In English there is no grammatical device to differentiate predicational judgments from nonpredicational descriptions. This distinction does cast a shadow on the grammatical sphere to some extent, but recognition of it must generally be made in semantic terms. It is maintained here that in Japanese, on the other hand, the distinction is grammatically realized through the use of the two particles wa and ga.
    • 1988, Andrew Radford, Transformational grammar: a first course, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 133:
      Traditional grammar typically recog-
      nises a number of further categories: for example, in his Reference Book of
      Terms in Traditional Grammar for Language Students
      , Simpson (1982) posits
      two additional word-level categories which he refers to as Particle, and
      Conjunction. Particles include the italicised words in (58) below:
      (58) (a)      He put his hat on
             (b)      If you pull too hard, the handle will come off
             (c)      He was leaning too far over the side, and fell out
             (d)      He went up to see the manager
  3. (physics) Any of various physical objects making up the constituent parts of an atom; an elementary particle or subatomic particle. [from 19th c.]
    • 2011, Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw, The Quantum Universe, Allen Lane 2011, p. 55:
      What, he asked himself, does quantum theory have to say about the familiar properties of particles such as position?
    • 2012 March-April, Jeremy Bernstein, “A Palette of Particles”, American Scientist, volume 100, number 2, page 146: 
      The physics of elementary particles in the 20th century was distinguished by the observation of particles whose existence had been predicted by theorists sometimes decades earlier.

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Translations[edit]

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