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[ap-uh-toh-sis, ap-uh p‐] /ˌæp əˈtoʊ sɪs, ˌæp əp‐/
a normal, genetically regulated process leading to the death of cells and triggered by the presence or absence of certain stimuli, as DNA damage.
Also called programmed cell death.
Origin of apoptosis
1970-75; New Latin < Greek apόptōsis a falling off, equivalent to apo- apo- + ptōsis ptosis
Related forms
apoptotic [ap-uh-tot-ik, ap-uh p‐] /ˌæp əˈtɒt ɪk, ˌæp əp‐/ (Show IPA), adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for apoptosis


(biology) the programmed death of some of an organism's cells as part of its natural growth and development Also called programmed cell death
Word Origin
C20: from Greek: a falling away, from apo- + ptōsis a falling
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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apoptosis in Science
  (āp'əp-tō'sĭs, āp'ə-tō'-)   
A natural process of self-destruction in certain cells, such as epithelial cells and erythrocytes, that are genetically programmed to have a limited life span or are damaged. Apoptosis can be induced either by a stimulus, such as irradiation or toxic drugs, or by removal of a repressor agent. The cells disintegrate into membrane-bound particles that are then eliminated by phagocytosis. Also called programmed cell death.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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apoptosis in Culture
apoptosis [(ap-uhp-toh-sis)]

The programmed death of a cell. Scientists believe that this process is governed by chemical signals a given cell receives from its neighbors.

Note: It is thought some forms of cancer may result when this process of cell death is somehow interrupted, allowing cells to grow unchecked, with the result being a cancerous tumor.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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