re·​cep·​tor | \ ri-ˈsep-tər How to pronounce receptor (audio) \

Definition of receptor

: receiver: such as
a : a cell or group of cells that receives stimuli : sense organ
b : a chemical group or molecule (such as a protein) on the cell surface or in the cell interior that has an affinity for a specific chemical group, molecule, or virus

Examples of receptor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Brexanolone mimics a product stemming from progesterone and binds to GABA receptors on cell surfaces. Popular Science, "Two radically new drugs bring hope for people with depression. But psychiatrists are skeptical.," 31 Dec. 2019 This retinol alternative activates the same receptors in your skin, without the residual redness or irritation, according to Melanie Palm, M.D., a San Diego dermatologist and dermatologic cosmetic surgeon. Erika Stalder, Glamour, "9 Ingredients to Avoid If You Have Sensitive Skin," 24 Dec. 2019 The brain mapping doesn't hurt Schardt; there are no pain receptors on the surface of the brain. NBC News, "Woman's awake brain surgery livestreamed on Facebook," 29 Oct. 2019 Specifically, a fusobacterial surface protein, Fap2, binds and activates a receptor on immune cells known as TIGIT, thereby suppressing the ability of immune cells to destroy the tumor. Larry Luxner,, "Israeli researchers at forefront of fight against breast cancer," 17 Oct. 2019 And activating those receptors on cancer cells seems to encourage them to grow. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "How the body’s nerves become accomplices in the spread of cancer," 12 Sep. 2019 During that process, signals trigger specific receptors on neuronal surfaces, which then relay the message. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, "2020 Breakthrough Prizes: Who won this year's 'Oscars of science'?," 5 Sep. 2019 Jordt says the tear gas agent activates receptors on the peripheral sensory nerves, a sinuous network of nerve fibers found all over our body. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Watch This Hong Kong Protester Instantly Neutralize Tear Gas," 3 Sep. 2019 This gene coded for a receptor on the surface of immune cells useful for coordinating responses to invading pathogens. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "A Study Exposes the Health Risks of Gene-Editing Human Embryos," 3 June 2019

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

1898, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for receptor

Time Traveler

The first known use of receptor was in 1898

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Statistics for receptor

Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Receptor.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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How to pronounce receptor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of receptor

biology : a nerve ending that senses changes in light, temperature, pressure, etc., and causes the body to react in a particular way


re·​cep·​tor | \ ri-ˈsep-tər How to pronounce receptor (audio) \

Kids Definition of receptor

: a cell that receives a stimulus (as light or heat) and activates an associated nerve to send a message to the brain and that may be grouped into a sense organ (as a taste bud)


re·​cep·​tor | \ ri-ˈsep-tər How to pronounce receptor (audio) \

Medical Definition of receptor

1 : a cell or group of cells that receives stimuli : sense organ
2 : a chemical group or molecule (as a protein) on the cell surface or in the cell interior that has an affinity for a specific chemical group, molecule, or virus
3 : a cellular entity (as a beta-receptor or alpha-receptor) that is a postulated intermediary between a chemical agent (as a neurohormone) acting on nervous tissue and the physiological or pharmacological response

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More from Merriam-Webster on receptor

Spanish Central: Translation of receptor

Nglish: Translation of receptor for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on receptor

What made you want to look up receptor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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