- suffix forming (orig. diminutive) nouns (molecule).
Etymology: F - cule or L - culus
* * *-cule1var. of -cle1: animalcule; molecule; reticule.[( < F) < L -culus, -cula, -culum; see -CLE1]-cule2var. of -cle2: ridicule.[( < F) < L -culum, -cula; see -CLE2]
* * *Origin:
* * *-culesuffix, corresp. to F. -cule, ad. L. -culus, -cula, -culum, dim. suffix of all three genders: see -culus. In living words, the suffix underwent various phonetic changes in becoming French; e.g. articulus, orteil; auricula, oreille; cuniculus, conil; masculus, masle, mâle; but it remained as -cle after persisting consonants, as in avunculus, oncle; cooperculum, couvercle. After the latter, some words of learned origin were fashioned in -cle; e.g. article; but in modern times the L. ending has been usually adapted in F. as -cule, as corcule, cornicule, corpuscule. In English, both endings -cle and -cule are found, as corpuscle, corpuscule, crepuscle, crepuscule, animalcule, formerly also animalcle, floscule, versicle, etc. The L. endings -culus, -culum are sometimes retained unchanged: see -culus. The ending -cule, with connecting vowel i, is sometimes employed, after L. analogies, to form contemptuous diminutives, as poeticule: cf. criticule.
Useful english dictionary. 2012.