noun, plural -li
[Origin: 1650–60; < L, equiv. to homun- (var. of homin-, s. of homō man; see Homo) + -culus -cule1]
1. an artificially made dwarf, supposedly produced in a flask by an alchemist.
2. a fully formed, miniature human body believed, according to some medical theories of the 16th and 17th centuries, to be contained in the spermatozoon. (i. e. the sperm, which were concieved of as "little men")
3. a diminutive human being.
4. the human fetus.
"For centuries, scholars have trawled a tiny pool of reliable data about the poet's life, poring over each real-estate transaction or baptism as if it were a kind of homunculus that could tell us all we're longing to know about the man himself."--Laura Shapiro, Slate Magaine 3/31/08