Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

cell

play
noun \ˈsel\

Simple Definition of cell

  • : a room in a prison, jail, etc., where prisoners live or are kept

  • : a small room that one person (such as a monk or a nun) lives in

  • : any one of the very small parts that together form all living things

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of cell

  1. 1 :  a small religious house dependent on a monastery or convent

  2. 2 a :  a one-room dwelling occupied by a solitary person (as a hermit) b :  a single room (as in a convent or prison) usually for one person

  3. 3 :  a small compartment, cavity, or bounded space: as a :  one of the compartments of a honeycomb b :  a membranous area bounded by veins in the wing of an insect

  4. 4 :  a small usually microscopic mass of protoplasm bounded externally by a semipermeable membrane, usually including one or more nuclei and various other organelles with their products, capable alone or interacting with other cells of performing all the fundamental functions of life, and forming the smallest structural unit of living matter capable of functioning independently

  5. 5 a (1) :  a receptacle containing electrodes and an electrolyte either for generating electricity by chemical action or for use in electrolysis (2) :  fuel cell b :  a single unit in a device for converting radiant energy into electrical energy or for varying the intensity of an electrical current in accordance with radiation

  6. 6 :  a unit in a statistical array (as a spreadsheet) formed by the intersection of a column and a row

  7. 7 :  a basic and usually small unit of an organization or movement <terrorist cells>

  8. 8 :  a portion of the atmosphere that behaves as a unit <a storm cell>

  9. 9 a :  any of the small sections of a geographic area of a cellular telephone system b :  cell phone

Examples of cell in a sentence

  1. The suspect was in the police station's holding cell overnight.

  2. <his mission was to locate and infiltrate the terrorist cell that was believed to be hiding in the city>



Illustration of cell

Origin of cell

Middle English, from Old English, religious house and Anglo-French celle hermit's cell, from Latin cella small room; akin to Latin celare to conceal — more at hell


First Known Use: 12th century

Rhymes with cell



CELL Defined for Kids

cell

play
noun \ˈsel\

Definition of cell for Students

  1. 1 :  a very small room (as in a prison or a monastery)

  2. 2 :  the basic structural unit of living things that is made up of cytoplasm enclosed by a membrane and that typically includes a nucleus and other smaller parts (as mitochondria or chloroplasts) which perform specific functions necessary for life

  3. 3 :  a small enclosed part or division (as in a honeycomb)

  4. 4 :  a container with substances which can produce an electric current by chemical action

  5. 5 :  a device that converts light (as sunlight) that falls on it into electrical energy that is used as a power source

  6. 6 :  cell phone

celled \ˈseld\ adjective <single-celled>



Medical Dictionary

cell

play
noun \ˈsel\

Medical Definition of cell

  1. 1:  a small compartment or bounded space

  2. 2:  a small usually microscopic mass of protoplasm bounded externally by a semipermeable membrane, usually including one or more nuclei and various nonliving products, capable alone or interacting with other cells of performing all the fundamental functions of life, and forming the smallest structural unit of living matter capable of functioning independently



Illustration of cell



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up cell? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

expressing little or no emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ