New Latin microscopium, from micr- + -scopium -scope
- 1: an optical instrument consisting of a lens or combination of lenses for making enlarged images of minute objects
- 2: a non-optical instrument (as one using radiations other than light or using vibrations) for making enlarged images of minute objects <an acoustic microscope>
A microscope (from the Greek: μικρός, mikrós, "small" and σκοπεῖν, skopeîn, "to look" or "see") is an instrument used to see objects that are too small for the naked eye. The science of investigating small objects using such an instrument is called microscopy. Microscopic means invisible to the eye unless aided by a microscope.
There are many types of microscopes, the most common and first to be invented is the optical microscope which uses light to image the sample. Other major types of microscopes are the electron microscope (both the transmission electron microscope and the scanning electron microscope) and the various types of scanning probe microscope.
The first microscope to be developed was the optical microscope, although the original inventor is not easy to identify. An early microscope was made in 1590 in Middelburg, Netherlands. Two eyeglass makers are variously given credit: Hans Lippershey (who developed an early telescope) and Zacharias Janssen. Giovanni Faber coined the name microscope for Galileo Galilei's compound microscope in 1625 (Galileo had called it the "occhiolino" or "little eye").