cyl·​in·​der ˈsi-lən-dər How to pronounce cylinder (audio)
: the surface traced by a straight line moving parallel to a fixed straight line and intersecting a fixed planar closed curve
: a solid or surface bounded by a cylinder and two parallel planes cutting all its elements
: a cylindrical body or space: such as
: the turning chambered breech of a revolver
: the piston chamber in an engine
: a chamber in a pump from which the piston expels the fluid
: any of various rotating members in a press (such as a printing press)
especially : one that impresses paper on an inked form
: a cylindrical clay object inscribed with cuneiform inscriptions
cylindered adjective
on all cylinders
: with maximum effort or intensity : at full capacity or speed
the economy is running on all cylinders

Examples of cylinder in a Sentence

the cylinder of a revolver
Recent Examples on the Web He was placed in an iron lung, a large metal cylinder that varies air pressure to stimulate breathing, according to his autobiography. Mira Cheng, CNN, 13 Mar. 2024 That year in suburban Detroit, a suspect described as a distributor of recreational nitrous oxide was successfully prosecuted for improperly labeling nitrous oxide cylinders. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 13 Mar. 2024 Nearby, her students are hustling around on a bright blue tarp, rolling out heavy cylinders of compressed gas and fiddling with boxes of electronics. Geoff Brumfiel, NPR, 25 Mar. 2024 Gas pumps have selfie points where customers can take a photo with cardboard cutouts of the prime minister alongside a larger-than-life red cylinder. Sushmita Pathak, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Mar. 2024 In the early 2000s, On-Air Dare, an apparent kids’ version of Fear Factor, came to fruition featuring some All That cast members, who each week would be placed in a glass cylinder and one would be randomly chosen to participate in a dare. Nicole Acosta, Peoplemag, 17 Mar. 2024 Unable to breathe on his own, he was placed in an iron lung, a large metal cylinder that varies air pressure to stimulate breathing. Alexandra Banner, CNN, 14 Mar. 2024 Whole neighborhoods were devastated in the northeastern part of the city, where gas cylinders were turned into makeshift bombs and tossed into mosques. Sameer Yasir, New York Times, 12 Mar. 2024 As the swing shift gets underway, Emmett Jaime pries inked plates off cylinders. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


Middle French or Latin; Middle French cylindre, from Latin cylindrus, from Greek kylindros, from kylindein to roll; perhaps akin to Greek kyklos wheel — more at wheel

First Known Use

1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of cylinder was in 1570

Dictionary Entries Near cylinder

Cite this Entry

“Cylinder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


cyl·​in·​der ˈsil-ən-dər How to pronounce cylinder (audio)
: a geometric shape composed of two parallel faces of identical size and shape (as circles) and a curved surface that completely connects their borders
: a body (as the piston chamber of an engine, the barrel of a pump, or the part of a revolver which holds the cartridges) shaped like a cylinder

More from Merriam-Webster on cylinder

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