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

In contrast to eukaryotes, which all have a suite of organelles in common, different groups of prokaryotes showcase their own specialized compartments. Quanta Magazine, "Bacterial Complexity Revises Ideas About ‘Which Came First?’," 27 Aug. 2019 This genetic material is found inside mitochondria, the sub-cellular compartments or organelles where food is converted into energy. Debra Meyer, Quartz Africa, "How an African scientist used mitochondrial DNA to discover she had ancestral South Asian roots," 6 Sep. 2019 Those components, or organelles, characterize cells of the third branch, the eukaryotes. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Tentacled microbe could be missing link between simple cells and complex life," 8 Aug. 2019 Often called droplets or condensates, these organelles bring vital cellular molecules—such as proteins and RNA—close together at specific times, while keeping others apart. Elizabeth O'day, Scientific American, "A Special Class of Proteins Offers Promising Targets for Drugs for Cancer and Alzheimer's," 1 July 2019 The nanotube method is far more elegant and even managed to insert genes into chloroplasts, the organelles in plant cells responsible for photosynthesis. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "An Advance in Bioengineering Could Pave the Way for Tomorrow’s Superplants," 12 Mar. 2019 Mirco 11 will study how the space influences the shape of this organelle, the behavior of which is of keen interest to fertility specialists. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Why There Are Sperm Swimming Around at the Space Station," 16 July 2018 Somehow the organelles will gravitate almost magically to the injured cells that need them and take up residence. New York Times, "Dying Organs Restored to Life in Novel Experiments," 10 July 2018 Tiny organelles, called mitochondria, exist inside living cells and have their own DNA. Virginia Gewin, The Atlantic, "A Handheld DNA Scanner Could Crack Down on Wildlife Identity Theft," 9 Feb. 2018

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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Last Updated

8 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for organelle

The first known use of organelle was in 1915

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on organelle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with organelle Encyclopedia article about organelle

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to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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