or·​gan·​elle | \ ˌȯr-gə-ˈnel How to pronounce organelle (audio) \

Definition of organelle

: a specialized cellular part (such as a mitochondrion, chloroplast, or nucleus) that has a specific function and is considered analogous to an organ

Examples of organelle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Chloroplasts, the organelles that host photosynthesis, have their own DNA, including a gene for D1, and most biologists assumed the protein had to be made there. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "Rice genetically engineered to resist heat waves can also produce up to 20% more grain," 21 Apr. 2020 In fact, the parasite was missing a critical organelle all together. 10. Remy Tumin, New York Times, "Stock Market, South Carolina, Donald Judd: Your Friday Evening Briefing," 28 Feb. 2020 Further tests confirmed it — there was no mitochondrial genome at all, and hence no chance of the organism functioning the way researchers had expected, although there did seem to be a loose sac that might once have been the organelle. Veronique Greenwood, New York Times, "This Parasite Doesn’t Need Oxygen to Survive," 28 Feb. 2020 Moreover, the cellular organs (organelles) and skeletal proteins arranged themselves around the nuclei, creating compartments that, to Cheng, resembled a sheet of skin cells. Quanta Magazine, "Unscrambled Eggs: Self-Organization Restores Cells’ Order," 2 Jan. 2020 In this case, because lots of ATP must be produced over extended periods of time, the muscle cells rely on their organelles called mitochondria. Joshua Selsby, CNN, "White meat, or dark meat? The science behind a delicious debate," 27 Nov. 2019 Nigel uses wit, whimsy, and humor to depict the various roles of organelles that create balance within a cell. Science, Science Magazine, "Our favorite Science illustrations of 2019," 10 Jan. 2020 When eukaryotic cells first absorbed the cyanobacteria that became chloroplast—a light-absorbing organelle—photosynthesis became a powerful driver of life on Earth. Viviane Callier, Smithsonian, "This Type of Algae Absorbs More Light for Photosynthesis Than Other Plants," 23 Oct. 2019 This mimicked the way the protein naturally folds bit by bit as it is produced in the cell, by a protein-making organelle called a ribosome. Sarah Lewin Frasier, Scientific American, "Unboiled Egg Untangles a Knotty Protein Problem," 2 Feb. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'organelle.' 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 organelle

1915, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for organelle

New Latin organella, from Latin organum

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Time Traveler for organelle

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The first known use of organelle was in 1915

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Cite this Entry

“Organelle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for organelle


or·​gan·​elle | \ ˌȯr-gə-ˈnel \

Kids Definition of organelle

: a structure (as a lysosome) in a cell that performs a special function


or·​gan·​elle | \ ˌȯr-gə-ˈnel How to pronounce organelle (audio) \

Medical Definition of organelle

: a specialized cellular part (as a mitochondrion or nucleus) that has a specific function and is considered analogous to an organ

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