August 01, 2017
molecule (noun)
\MAH-lih-kyool\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : the smallest particle of a substance having all the characteristics of the substance2 : a very small bit : particle
How do you use it?
The DNA molecule is shaped like a long, twisted ladder.
Are you a word wiz?

Word scholars have found evidence that the word "molecule" was first used in the late 1700s. The name for one of the following elements first appeared in English around the same time. Which one do you think it is?

Breathe a sigh of relief if you chose B, "oxygen." Around the late 1700s, English experienced a heyday during which many scientific terms were added, especially from French. One term was "molecule," which was adopted from the French word "molecule," a descendant of New Latin "molecula." "Molecula" ultimately comes from Latin "moles," meaning "mass." During this time, English adopted from French several names for elements, including "oxygen," "nitrogen," "hydrogen," and "carbon." In case you're curious, "iron" and "copper" are both very old and date to before the 1100s, while "helium," a relative newcomer, first appeared in the late 1800s.
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