pan·​cre·​as | \ ˈpaŋ-krē-əs, ˈpan-\

Definition of pancreas

: a large lobulated gland of vertebrates that secretes digestive enzymes and the hormones insulin and glucagon

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Other Words from pancreas

pancreatic \ ˌpaŋ-​krē-​ˈa-​tik , ˌpan-​ \ adjective

Examples of pancreas in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This causes damage and makes the pancreas unable to properly produce insulin. Jennifer Lavallee, SELF, "5 Things I’m Sick of Hearing as Someone With Type 1 Diabetes," 29 Aug. 2018 That's often done via needle, but for those who are squeamish there's also the option of an insulin pump that functions as a partial or full artificial pancreas, Hirsch adds. Colleen Stinchcombe, Woman's Day, "What's the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?," 10 Sep. 2018 He was released on Friday from Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, after being treated for broken vertebrae, a torn pancreas and other injuries. Christine Hauser, New York Times, "An Avalanche Sweeps Away a Snowboarder, but His Friends Rescue Him," 27 Apr. 2018 The pancreas produces insulin in order to move that glucose into the tissues of our body, which is then used for energy or, in the case of our liver, is stored as glycogen that's released between meals to keep blood sugar levels stable. Colleen Stinchcombe, Woman's Day, "What's the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?," 10 Sep. 2018 In October last year, Novartis paid $3.9 billion for Advanced Accelerator Applications, which makes a radiopharmaceutical for a rare form of gut and pancreas cancer. Denise Roland, WSJ, "Novartis CEO Bets on Cutting-Edge Science to Remake Drug Giant," 19 Nov. 2018 Untimely — and deadly — health risks Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in childhood, requires the use of supplemental insulin because the pancreas has stopped producing it. Carrie Dennett, The Seattle Times, "It’s a dangerous eating disorder that affects people with diabetes. So why haven’t you heard of it?," 20 Aug. 2018 Only nine children have received a sole pancreas transplant, Kandaswamy said. Wayne Drash, CNN, "The medicine keeping her alive was also killing her," 12 June 2018 Phillips, 31, has widely metastatic cancer in his colon, liver, pancreas, lungs, and lymph nodes. Yvonne Abraham,, "At Department of Correction, a death of compassion," 28 June 2018

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

1578, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pancreas

New Latin, from Greek pankreas sweetbread, from pan- + kreas flesh, meat — more at raw

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Statistics for pancreas

Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for pancreas

The first known use of pancreas was in 1578

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More Definitions for pancreas



English Language Learners Definition of pancreas

: a large gland of the body that is near the stomach and that produces insulin and other substances that help the body digest food


pan·​cre·​as | \ ˈpaŋ-krē-əs \

Kids Definition of pancreas

: a large gland near the stomach that produces insulin and a fluid ( pancreatic juice ) with enzymes that aid digestion


pan·​cre·​as | \ ˈpaŋ-krē-əs, ˈpan- \
plural pancreases also pancreata\ pan-​ˈkrē-​ət-​ə \

Medical Definition of pancreas

: a large lobulated gland that in humans lies in front of the upper lumbar vertebrae and behind the stomach and is somewhat hammer-shaped and firmly attached anteriorly to the curve of the duodenum with which it communicates through one or more pancreatic ducts and that consists of (1) tubular acini secreting digestive enzymes which pass to the intestine and function in the breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates; (2) modified acinar cells that form islets of Langerhans between the tubules and secrete the hormones insulin and glucagon; and (3) a firm connective-tissue capsule that extends supportive strands into the organ

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More from Merriam-Webster on pancreas

Spanish Central: Translation of pancreas

Nglish: Translation of pancreas for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pancreas for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pancreas

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someone who never drinks alcohol

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