subatomic particle, 1939, from Greek mesos "middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle") + subatomic particle suffix -on. Earlier mesotron (1938). So called for being intermediate in mass between protons and electrons. An earlier use of the word, from the Greek noun meson "center," meant "the medial plane which divides the body into two equal and symmetrical parts" (by 1883).
updated on December 30, 2018