plural ampullae am-ˈpu-(ˌ)lē How to pronounce ampulla (audio)
: a glass or earthenware flask with a globular body and two handles used especially by the ancient Romans to hold ointment, perfume, or wine
: a saccular anatomical swelling or pouch
am-ˈpu̇-lər-ē How to pronounce ampulla (audio)

Examples of ampulla in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The regalia that King Frederik sported are presented alongside the King’s badges of rank like the crown, scepter, orb, coronation sword and anointing ampulla — a royal parallel to some of the objects used in King Charles’ coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey in May 2023. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 25 Apr. 2024 The ampulla, shaped like an eagle, contains oil used in the coronation service. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, 6 May 2023 The holy oil will be poured from an ampulla shaped like an eagle and a 13th-century spoon — both gold (naturally). Kelly Faircloth, Curbed, 5 May 2023 The anointing spoon and ampulla, from which the Chrism oil was poured during the church service, are also there to see in all their golden glory. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 25 May 2023 There is a 14th Century legend that the Virgin Mary appeared to St Thomas à Becket and presented him with a golden eagle and a vial of oil for anointing future Kings of England, which is what the original ampulla as thought to have been based on. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, 6 May 2023 The ampulla’s head is removable for refilling the flask, and there is a hole in the beak that is used to pour oil into the spoon. Max Taylor, NBC News, 4 May 2023 The Dean pours oil from the ampulla into the spoon and the Archbishop anoints the King. Maria Mercedes Lara, Peoplemag, 6 May 2023 The ampulla The Ampulla has a hole in the beak that is used to pour oil into the Coronation Spoon. Max Taylor, NBC News, 4 May 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ampulla.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin, going back to *amporela, diminutive of amphora amphora; (sense 2) borrowed from Medieval Latin, going back to Latin

Note: See also ampoule.

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ampulla was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near ampulla

Cite this Entry

“Ampulla.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


plural ampullae -ˌlē How to pronounce ampulla (audio)
: a saccular anatomic swelling or pouch: as
: the dilatation containing a patch of sensory epithelium at one end of each semicircular canal of the ear
: one of the dilatations of the lactiferous tubules of the mammary glands that serve as reservoirs for milk
: the middle portion of the fallopian tube
: the distal dilatation of a vas deferens near the opening of the duct leading from the seminal vesicle
: a terminal dilatation of the rectum just before it joins the anal canal

More from Merriam-Webster on ampulla

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