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From proto- + Ancient Greek ὕλη (húlē, timber, material).



protyle (countable and uncountable, plural protyles)

  1. (physics, chemistry, historical) A hypothetical base substance from which all chemical elements were believed to have been made; subatomic particles.
    • 1918, E. H. R., Abstract of Curt Schmidt, "The Periodic System and Genesis of the Elements", in Journal of the Chemical Society, vol. 114, part 2, 1918, p. 305–306
      Two principles are postulated, according to which the elements have probably been evolved: (1) the ontogenic principle, involving the formation of the primary members of the different groups by direct condensation of protyl; (2) the phytogenetic principle, by which the higher members of the groups are developed from the lower by a process of integration.
    • 2002, Philip Ball, The Elements: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford 2004, p. 73:
      Dumas wondered whether the fundamental building blocks of atoms might be some smaller division of the hydrogen atom: a half, say, or a quarter. This basic substance became known as ‘protyle’.

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