(2,235 words)

1. Ancient precursors

The Ancient Greek word á-tomos, from which the term atom is derived, means “indivisible” or “not cutable.” An atomic philosophy was devised in the 5th century by the Presocratics Leucippus and Democritus, who postulated the existence of atoms and empty space or void as the principles of all things, underlying all ch…

Cite this page
Johnson, Monte, “Atomism”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Executive editor of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy. Consulted online on 19 March 2018 <>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321

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