mul·​ti·​cel·​lu·​lar | \ ˌməl-tē-ˈsel-yə-lər How to pronounce multicellular (audio) , -ˌtī- \

Definition of multicellular

: having, made up of, or involving more than one and usually many cells especially of living matter It is probable that with a few exceptions all the cells in a multicellular organism have the same genetic information encoded in the chains of nucleotide bases that make up their DNA.— James E. Darnell, Jr. A biofilm is a community of bacteria that use intercellular signaling to establish complex multicellular structures by coordinating gene expression and phenotypic changes.— J. Christopher Post et al.

Other Words from multicellular

multicellularity \ ˌməl-​tē-​ˌsel-​yə-​ˈler-​ə-​tē How to pronounce multicellular (audio) , -​ˌtī-​ , -​ˈla-​rə-​ \ noun
When is an organism multicellular? A generic answer … is that multicellularity results when two or more neighboring cells adhere, interact, and physiologically communicate. — Karl J. Niklas

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Multicellular organisms are distinguished from the very primitive single-celled organisms—bacteria, algae, amoebas, etc. Even sponges, simple as they are, have specialized cell types such as digestive cells. In complex multicellular organisms, only the surface cells can exchange substances with the external environment, so the organisms have developed transport systems such as the circulatory system, in which the blood brings gases and nutrients to the cells and removes waste products from them.

First Known Use of multicellular

1852, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of multicellular was in 1852

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Cite this Entry

“Multicellular.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for multicellular


mul·​ti·​cel·​lu·​lar | \ -ˈsel-yə-lər How to pronounce multicellular (audio) \

Medical Definition of multicellular

: having or consisting of many cells

Other Words from multicellular

multicellularity \ -​ˌsel-​yə-​ˈlar-​ət-​ē How to pronounce multicellular (audio) \ noun, plural multicellularities

More from Merriam-Webster on multicellular

Britannica English: Translation of multicellular for Arabic Speakers


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