Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[kap-uh-ler-ee] /ˈkæp əˌlɛr i/
pertaining to or occurring in or as if in a tube of fine bore.
resembling a strand of hair; hairlike.
  1. pertaining to capillarity.
  2. of or relating to the apparent attraction or repulsion between a liquid and a solid, observed in capillarity.
Anatomy. pertaining to a capillary or capillaries.
noun, plural capillaries.
Anatomy. one of the minute blood vessels between the terminations of the arteries and the beginnings of the veins.
Also called capillary tube. a tube with a small bore.
Origin of capillary
1570-80; capill(ar) (obsolete, < Latin capillāris pertaining to hair, equivalent to capill(us) hair + -āris -ar1) + -ary
Related forms
intercapillary, adjective
noncapillary, adjective, noun, plural noncapillaries. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for capillaries
Historical Examples
  • The color of a tissue depends upon the state of filling of the capillaries with blood.

    Arteriosclerosis and Hypertension: Louis Marshall Warfield
  • He knew nothing of the vessels which we now speak of as capillaries.

    Fathers of Biology Charles McRae
  • This inevitably causes distension of the capillaries with stretching of the arteries and consequent damage to the walls.

    Arteriosclerosis and Hypertension: Louis Marshall Warfield
  • The whole stream, on the other hand, passes through the capillaries of the lungs.

    Physiology Ernest G. Martin
  • Some of the liquid parts of the blood go out through the sides of the capillaries and become food for the cells of the body.

    Applied Physiology Frank Overton
  • This it does by passing it through the walls of the capillaries.

    A Civic Biology George William Hunter
  • They change their shape and are able to crawl through the walls of the capillaries.

    Health Lessons Alvin Davison
  • And the first of these is the proportion of arterial to venous blood in the capillaries.

    Omphalos Philip Henry Gosse
  • While passing through the capillaries of the lungs, the blood gives up some of its impurities in exchange for oxygen from the air.

  • From the capillaries the blood flows into the veins and back to the heart.

    Applied Physiology Frank Overton
British Dictionary definitions for capillaries


resembling a hair; slender
(of tubes) having a fine bore
(anatomy) of or relating to any of the delicate thin-walled blood vessels that form an interconnecting network between the arterioles and the venules
(physics) of or relating to capillarity
noun (pl) -laries
(anatomy) any of the capillary blood vessels
a fine hole or narrow passage in any substance
Word Origin
C17: from Latin capillāris, from capillus hair
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for capillaries



1650s, "of or pertaining to the hair," from Latin capillaris "of hair," from capillus "hair" (of the head); perhaps related to caput "head" (but de Vaan finds this "difficult on the formal side" and "far from compelling, since capillus is a diminutive, and would mean 'little head', which hardly amounts to 'hair'"). Borrowed earlier as capillar (14c.). Meaning "taking place in capillary vessels" is from 1809. Capillary attraction attested from 1813. As a noun, "capillary blood vessel," from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
capillaries in Medicine

capillary cap·il·lary (kāp'ə-lěr'ē)

  1. Of or relating to the capillaries.

  2. Relating to or resembling a hair; fine and slender.

Blood capillary.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
capillaries in Science
Any of the tiny blood vessels that connect the smallest arteries (arterioles) to the smallest veins (venules). Capillaries form a network throughout the body for the exchange of oxygen, metabolic waste products, and carbon dioxide between blood and tissue cells.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
capillaries in Culture
capillaries [(kap-uh-ler-eez)]

The tiny blood vessels throughout the body that connect arteries and veins. Capillaries form an intricate network around body tissues in order to distribute oxygen and nutrients to the cells and remove waste substances. (See circulatory system.)

capillary [(kap-uh-ler-ee)]

A thin tube, such as a blood vessel or a straw, through which fluids flow.

Note: The interaction between the fluid and the vessel walls produces a force that can lift the fluid up into the tube, a phenomenon known as capillary action.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for capillary

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for capillaries

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for capillaries