Pronunciation Noun

cell (plural cells)

  1. A single-room dwelling for a hermit. [from 10th c.]
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, VI.6:
      So, taking them apart into his cell, / He to that point fit speaches gan to frame […].
    • 1764, Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, IV:
      For three days he and his attendants had wandered in the forest without seeing a human form: but on the evening of the third they came to a cell, in which they found a venerable hermit in the agonies of death.
  2. (now historical) A small monastery or nunnery dependent on a larger religious establishment. [from 11th c.]
  3. A small room in a monastery or nunnery accommodating one person. [from 14th c.]
    Gregor Mendel must have spent a good amount of time outside of his cell.
  4. A room in a prison or jail for one or more inmates. [from 18th c.]
    Synonyms: prison cell
    The combatants spent the night in separate cells.
  5. Each of the small hexagonal compartments in a honeycomb. [from 14th c.]
  6. (biology, now chiefly botany) Any of various chambers in a tissue or organism having specific functions. [from 14th c.]
    • 1858, Asa Gray, Introduction to Structural and Systematic Botany, fifth edition, p. 282:
      Each of the two cells or lobes of the anther is marked with a lateral line or furrow, running from top to bottom […].
  7. (obsolete) Specifically, any of the supposed compartments of the brain, formerly thought to be the source of specific mental capacities, knowledge, or memories. [14th-19th c.]
  8. A section or compartment of a larger structure. [from 16th c.]
  9. (obsolete, chiefly literary) Any small dwelling; a remote nook, a den. [16th-19th c.]
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 12, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes, […], book II, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount […], OCLC 946730821 ↗:
      Thou seest but the order and policie of this little Cell {{transterm
    • 1810, Walter Scott, Lady of the Lake, II:
      Not long shall honour'd Douglas dwell, / Like hunted stag, in mountain-cell […].
  10. A device which stores electrical power; used either singly or together in batteries; the basic unit of a battery. [from 19th c.]
    This MP3 player runs on 2 AAA cells.
  11. (biology) The basic unit of a living organism, consisting of a quantity of protoplasm surrounded by a cell membrane, which is able to synthesize proteins and replicate itself. [from 19th c.]
    • 1999, Paul Brown & Dave King, The Guardian, 15 Feb 1999:
      An American company has applied to experiment in Britain on Parkinson's disease sufferers by injecting their brains with cells from pigs.
    • 2011, Terence Allen & Graham Cowling, The Cell: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford 2011, p. 3:
      In multicellular organisms, groups of cells form tissues and tissues come together to form organs.
  12. (meteorology) A small thunderstorm, caused by convection, that forms ahead of a storm front. [from 20th c.]
    There is a powerful storm cell headed our way.
  13. (computing) The minimal unit of a cellular automaton that can change state and has an associated behavior. [from 20th c.]
    The upper right cell always starts with the color green.
  14. (card games) In FreeCell-type games, a space where one card can be placed.
  15. A small group of people forming part of a larger organization, often an outlawed one. [from 20th c.]
    Those three fellows are the local cell of that organization.
  16. (communication) A short, fixed-length packet as in asynchronous transfer mode. [from 20th c.]
    Virtual Channel number 5 received 170 cells.
  17. (communication) A region of radio reception that is a part of a larger radio network.
    I get good reception in my home because it is near a cell tower.
  18. (geometry) A three-dimensional facet of a polytope.
  19. (statistics) The unit in a statistical array (a spreadsheet, for example) where a row and a column intersect.
  20. (architecture) The space between the ribs of a vaulted roof.
  21. (architecture) A cella.
  22. (entomology) An area of an insect wing bounded by veins
Synonyms Related terms Translations
  • French: pile
  • German: Zelle, Batteriezelle
  • Portuguese: célula
  • Russian: батаре́йка
Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations
  • French: cellule (of a honeycomb)
  • Portuguese: célula
  • Russian: яче́йка

cell (cells, present participle celling; past and past participle celled)

  1. (transitive) To place or enclose in a cell.
    • Celled under ground.

cell (plural cells)

  1. (US, informal) A cellular phone.

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