neu·​ron ˈnü-ˌrän How to pronounce neuron (audio) ˈnyü- How to pronounce neuron (audio) ˈnu̇r-ˌän How to pronounce neuron (audio)
: a grayish or reddish granular cell that is the fundamental functional unit of nervous tissue transmitting and receiving nerve impulses and having cytoplasmic processes which are highly differentiated frequently as multiple dendrites or usually as solitary axons which conduct impulses to and away from the cell body : nerve cell sense 1
neuronal adjective
or less commonly neuronic

Illustration of neuron

Illustration of neuron
  • 1 cell body
  • 2 dendrite
  • 3 axon
  • 4 nerve ending

Examples of neuron in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Like the jellies, the membranes of our neurons need just the right amount of fluidity to function., 3 July 2024 Wear and Tear The spine is a 30-level tower of neurons encased in a cylinder of bone. Tony Dajer, Discover Magazine, 13 June 2024 These models consist of a complex neural net, a collection of artificial neurons cleverly connected to each other, and these connections have associated weights, which alter the signals moving through the system. Quanta Magazine, 12 June 2024 The high density of electrodes allows neuroscientists to map the activity of neurons at unprecedented resolution, which will ultimately help them to better decode thoughts into intended actions. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 28 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for neuron 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'neuron.' 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 German Neuron, borrowed from Greek neûron "sinew, tendon, nerve" — more at nerve entry 1

Note: Term introduced by the German anatomist Heinrich Wilhelm Waldeyer (Heinrich Wilhelm Gottfried von Waldeyer-Hartz, 1836-1921) in "Ueber einige neuere Forschungen im Gebiete der Anatomie der Centralnervensystems," Berliner klinische Wochenschrift, 28. Jahrgang, no. 28, July 13, 1891, p. 691: "Somit besteht ein Nervenelement (eine 'Nerveneinheit' oder 'Neuron', wie ich es zu nennen vorschlagen möchte), den genannten Forschungsergebnissen … zufolge, aus nachstehenden Stücken: a) einer Nervenzelle, b) dem Nervenfortsatze, c) dessen Collateralen und d) dem Endbäumchen." — "Therefore, in accordance with the cited research results, a nerve element (a 'nerve unit' or 'neuron,' as I would like to suggest as a name), consists of the following parts: a) a nerve cell, b) the nerve process [= axon], c) its collaterals and d) the end tree [= axon terminals]." Waldeyer apparently intended -on to be taken as a suffix, indicating a unit, rather than the Greek neuter singular inflectional ending, as he utilized Neuronen as the plural in the same article. Cf. French neurone and the English variant neurone.

First Known Use

1891, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of neuron was in 1891

Dictionary Entries Near neuron

Cite this Entry

“Neuron.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a grayish or reddish cell that is the basic working unit of the nervous system and has an axon and dendrites that carry nerve impulses

Medical Definition


variants also neurone
: one of the cells that constitute nervous tissue, that have the property of transmitting and receiving nerve impulses, and that are composed of somewhat reddish or grayish protoplasm with a large nucleus containing a conspicuous nucleolus, irregular cytoplasmic granules, and cytoplasmic processes which are highly differentiated frequently as multiple dendrites or usually as solitary axons and which conduct impulses toward and away from the cell body : nerve cell sense 1

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