co·​chlea | \ ˈkō-klē-ə How to pronounce cochlea (audio) , ˈkä-klē- How to pronounce cochlea (audio) \
plural cochleas or cochleae\ ˈkō-​klē-​ˌē How to pronounce cochlea (audio) , -​ˌī , ˈkä-​klē-​ \

Definition of cochlea

: a hollow tube in the inner ear of higher vertebrates that is usually coiled like a snail shell and contains the sensory organ of hearing — see ear illustration

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from cochlea

cochlear \ ˈkō-​klē-​ər How to pronounce cochlea (audio) , ˈkä-​ How to pronounce cochlea (audio) \ adjective

Examples of cochlea in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These bones then transmit the sound vibrations to the cochlea, which stimulates nerve axons that send the auditory signal to the brain. Neel Bhatt, The Conversation, 17 May 2021 Novic is more positive about the film's depiction of cochlear implants -- devices that turn sounds into electronic signals that stimulate the cochlea in the inner ear, which the brain recognizes as sound. Thomas Page, CNN, 19 Apr. 2021 The one undeniably successful neural prosthesis is the artificial cochlea, which restores hearing by feeding signals from a microphone into the auditory nerve. John Horgan, Scientific American, 23 Jan. 2021 The action sends pressure waves through the liquid in the cochlea, the snail shell of the inner ear. Popular Science, 21 Jan. 2020 Some of the vibrations passed through the wood, through his jaw, through his temporal bone, and into his cochlea, bypassing his eardrum and middle ear. David Owen, The New Yorker, 3 Nov. 2019 These sunglasses include a nub at the end of the arms that touch the back of your ear and send sound-carrying vibrations right past your eardrum and to your cochlea (inner ear). Cameron Martindell, WIRED, 13 June 2019 Your inner ear contains the cochlea, or the organ that actually allows you to hear, so this kind of decline in function can contribute to hearing issues. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, 30 Jan. 2019 Within the cochlea, hair cells rest on an organic platform known as the basilar membrane that is floppy and wide on one end and narrow and taut on the other. Justin Chen, STAT, 11 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of cochlea

1688, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cochlea

New Latin, from Latin, snail, snail shell, from Greek kochlias, from kochlos snail; probably akin to Greek konchē mussel

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About cochlea

Time Traveler for cochlea

Time Traveler

The first known use of cochlea was in 1688

See more words from the same year

Statistics for cochlea

Last Updated

22 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cochlea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cochlea



English Language Learners Definition of cochlea

technical : the part of the inner ear that contains the endings of the nerve that carries information about sound to the brain


co·​chlea | \ ˈkō-klē-ə How to pronounce cochlea (audio) , ˈkä- \
plural cochleas or cochleae\ -​ˌē , -​ˌī \

Kids Definition of cochlea

: a coiled tube in the inner part of the ear that contains the endings of the nerve which carries information about sound to the brain


co·​chle·​a | \ ˈkō-klē-ə How to pronounce cochlea (audio) , ˈkäk-lē- How to pronounce cochlea (audio) \
plural cochleas or cochleae\ ˈkō-​klē-​ˌē, ˈkäk-​lē-​ˌē, -​ˌī How to pronounce cochlea (audio) \

Medical Definition of cochlea

: a division of the bony labyrinth of the inner ear coiled into the form of a snail shell and consisting of a spiral canal in the petrous part of the temporal bone in which lies a smaller membranous spiral passage that communicates with the saccule at the base of the spiral, ends blindly near its apex, and contains the organ of Corti

Other Words from cochlea

cochlear \ ˈkō-​klē-​ər, ˈkäk-​lē-​ər How to pronounce cochlea (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on cochlea Encyclopedia article about cochlea


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!