\ ˈsel How to pronounce cell (audio) \

Definition of cell

1 : a small religious house dependent on a monastery or convent
2a : a one-room dwelling occupied by a solitary person (such as a hermit)
b : a single room (as in a convent or prison) usually for one person
3 : a small compartment, cavity, or bounded space: such as
a : one of the compartments of a honeycomb
b : a membranous area bounded by veins in the wing of an insect
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
5a(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 (see radiation sense 1)
6 : a unit in a statistical array (see array entry 2 sense 5) (such as a spreadsheet) formed by the intersection of a column and a row
7 : a basic and usually small unit of an organization or movement terrorist cells
8 : a portion of the atmosphere that behaves as a unit a storm cell
9a : any of the small sections of a geographic area of a cellular (see cellular entry 1 sense 3) telephone system

Illustration of cell

Illustration of cell

cell 4 (schematic): A plant, B animal; 1 cell wall, 2 middle lamella, 3 plasma membrane, 4 mitochondrion, 5 vacuole, 6 Golgi apparatus, 7 cytoplasm, 8 nuclear membrane, 9 nucleolus, 10 nucleus, 11 chromatin, 12 endoplasmic reticulum with associated ribosomes, 13 chloroplast, 14 centriole, 15 lysosome

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Examples of cell in a Sentence

The suspect was in the police station's holding cell overnight. his mission was to locate and infiltrate the terrorist cell that was believed to be hiding in the city

Recent Examples on the Web

In terms of space requirements, these systems range in size from a narrow bookcase-size space for a modular system up to a laundry closet or small attic space for a bank of wired cells. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How To Live Off the Grid," 10 June 2019 The drug disrupted the DNA of fast-growing cancer cells and was effective not only against ALL, but also adult leukemias and ulcerative colitis. Marie Mccullough, https://www.inquirer.com, "How conquering a rare leukemia in children revolutionized cancer care for millions," 6 June 2019 The increasing numbers have also meant that border officials have not been able to process unaccompanied children and transfer them out of temporary holding cells within the 72 hours required by agency guidelines, Hastings said. Paul Ratje/afp Via Getty Images, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Southwest border apprehensions reach 13-year high," 5 June 2019 Alphabet also has used AI to detect diseases by allowing the technology to recognize patterns, such as whether a clump of cells are cancerous. Matt Mcfarland, CNN, "Alphabet is betting big on moonshots but so are startups," 5 June 2019 Chemotherapy and radiation therapy work to halt the spread of any remaining cancer cells. Trihealth, Cincinnati.com, "Advancing care for brain cancer," 4 June 2019 This gene coded for a receptor on the surface of immune cells useful for coordinating responses to invading pathogens. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "A Study Exposes the Health Risks of Gene-Editing Human Embryos," 3 June 2019 Riley said his work affects only a tiny fraction of blood cells, while people in Nielsen's study with the higher death rate had CCR5 shut off in every cell of the body. NBC News, "China's gene-edited twins may face risk of early death," 3 June 2019 Retinoids, which are derivatives of vitamin A, are able to exfoliate the top layer of skin cells at lightning speed. Hana Hong, Marie Claire, "The Secret to Jennifer Garner's Glowy, Ageless Skin," 8 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cell.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cell

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

History and Etymology for 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

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Statistics for cell

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for cell

The first known use of cell was before the 12th century

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English Language Learners 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


\ ˈsel How to pronounce cell (audio) \

Kids Definition of cell

1 : a very small room (as in a prison or a monastery)
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 : a small enclosed part or division (as in a honeycomb)
4 : a container with substances which can produce an electric current by chemical action
5 : a device that converts light (as sunlight) that falls on it into electrical energy that is used as a power source

Other Words from cell

celled \ ˈseld \ adjective single-celled


\ ˈsel How to pronounce cell (audio) \

Medical Definition of cell

1 : a small compartment or bounded space
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on cell

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cell

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cell

Spanish Central: Translation of cell

Nglish: Translation of cell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cell for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cell

Comments on cell

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


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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