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[kawr-teks] /ˈkɔr tɛks/
noun, plural cortices
[kawr-tuh-seez] /ˈkɔr təˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
Anatomy, Zoology.
  1. the outer region of an organ or structure, as the outer portion of the kidney.
  2. the cerebral cortex.
  1. the portion of a stem between the epidermis and the vascular tissue; bark.
  2. any outer layer, as rind.
Mycology. the surface tissue layer of a fungus or lichen, composed of massed hyphal cells.
Origin of cortex
1650-60; < Latin: bark, rind, shell, husk
Related forms
subcortex, noun, plural subcortices. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for cortices


noun (pl) -tices (-tɪˌsiːz)
(anatomy) the outer layer of any organ or part, such as the grey matter in the brain that covers the cerebrum (cerebral cortex) or the outer part of the kidney (renal cortex)
  1. the unspecialized tissue in plant stems and roots between the vascular bundles and the epidermis
  2. the outer layer of a part such as the bark of a stem
Derived Forms
cortical (ˈkɔːtɪkəl) adjective
cortically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: bark, outer layer
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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Word Origin and History for cortices



1650s, "outer shell, husk," from Latin cortex "bark of a tree" (see corium). Specifically of the brain, first recorded 1741.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cortices in Medicine

cortex cor·tex (kôr'těks')
n. pl. cor·tex·es or cor·ti·ces (-tĭ-sēz')

  1. The outer layer of an internal organ or body structure, as of the kidney.

  2. The cerebral cortex.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cortices in Science
  1. The outer layer of an organ or body part, such as the cerebrum or the adrenal glands.

  2. The region of tissue lying between the epidermis (the outermost layer) and the vascular tissue in the roots and stems of plants. It is composed of collenchyma, parenchyma, and sclerenchyma. In roots the cortex transfers water and minerals from the epidermis to the vascular tissue, which distributes them to other parts of the plant. The cortex also provides structural support and stores food manufactured in the leaves. See illustration at xylem.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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