cell

noun

1
: a small religious house dependent on a monastery or convent
2
a
: a one-room dwelling occupied by a solitary person (such as a hermit)
b
: a single room (as in a convent or prison) usually for one person
3
: a small compartment, cavity, or bounded space: such as
a
: one of the compartments of a honeycomb
b
: a membranous area bounded by veins in the wing of an insect
4
: a small usually microscopic mass of protoplasm bounded externally by a semipermeable membrane, usually including one or more nuclei and various other organelles with their products, capable alone or interacting with other cells of performing all the fundamental functions of life, and forming the smallest structural unit of living matter capable of functioning independently
5
a(1)
: a receptacle containing electrodes and an electrolyte either for generating electricity by chemical action or for use in electrolysis
(2)
b
: a single unit in a device for converting radiant energy into electrical energy or for varying the intensity of an electrical current in accordance with radiation (see radiation sense 1)
6
: a unit in a statistical array (see array entry 2 sense 5) (such as a spreadsheet) formed by the intersection of a column and a row
7
: a basic and usually small unit of an organization or movement
terrorist cells
8
: a portion of the atmosphere that behaves as a unit
a storm cell
9
a
: any of the small sections of a geographic area of a cellular (see cellular entry 1 sense 3) telephone system

Illustration of cell

Illustration of cell
  • A plant
  • B animal; 1 cell wall
  • 2 middle lamella
  • 3 plasma membrane
  • 4 mitochondrion
  • 5 vacuole
  • 6 Golgi apparatus
  • 7 cytoplasm
  • 8 nuclear membrane
  • 9 nucleolus
  • 10 nucleus
  • 11 chromatin
  • 12 endoplasmic reticulum with associated ribosomes
  • 13 chloroplast
  • 14 centriole
  • 15 lysosome

Example Sentences

The suspect was in the police station's holding cell overnight. his mission was to locate and infiltrate the terrorist cell that was believed to be hiding in the city
Recent Examples on the Web Sands is infamous for smearing the walls of his cell with excrement. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 4 Feb. 2023 Michael Theodore Medders, 61, was found unresponsive in his cell at 8:42 p.m. Sunday, and pronounced dead at 8:54 p.m. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 2 Feb. 2023 In his cell on death row, her boyfriend kept a cellphone. Los Angeles Times, 30 Jan. 2023 Epstein was found dead in his New York jail cell in August 2019; the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said his cause of death was suicide by hanging. Ramishah Maruf, CNN, 30 Jan. 2023 The radiation imprints on your DNA and each time your cell divides, the mutation will be present in the new cells. Saleen Martin, USA TODAY, 26 Jan. 2023 Activist Sandra Bland was pulled over for a traffic violation and, three days later, found dead in her jail cell. Safire R. Sostre, Women's Health, 25 Jan. 2023 He was later found dead in August 2019 in his New York City cell from an apparent suicide, according to the Justice Department. Yael Halon, Fox News, 25 Jan. 2023 The father also said the department has withheld surveillance footage from inside the jail, evidence that might show more clearly what happened to Mills before he was found unconscious in his cell. Jeff Mcdonald, Kelly Davis Jan. 24, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cell.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Old English, religious house and Anglo-French celle hermit's cell, from Latin cella small room; akin to Latin celare to conceal — more at hell

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cell was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near cell

Cite this Entry

“Cell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cell. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

cell

noun
1
: a very small room (as in a convent or prison) usually for one person
2
: a small compartment, cavity, or bounded space
the cells in a honeycomb often contain honey
3
: one of the tiny units that are the basic building blocks of living things, that carry on the basic functions of life either alone or in groups, and that include a nucleus and are surrounded by a membrane
4
a
: a container (as a jar) with electrodes and an electrolyte either for generating electricity by chemical action or for use in electrolysis
b
: a single unit in a device for changing radiant energy into electrical energy
5
celled
ˈseld
adjective

Medical Definition

cell

noun
1
: a small compartment or bounded space
2
: a small usually microscopic mass of protoplasm bounded externally by a semipermeable membrane, usually including one or more nuclei and various nonliving products, capable alone or interacting with other cells of performing all the fundamental functions of life, and forming the smallest structural unit of living matter capable of functioning independently

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