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[kyoo-myuh-luh s] /ˈkyu myə ləs/
noun, plural cumulus.
a heap; pile.
a cloud of a class characterized by dense individual elements in the form of puffs, mounds, or towers, with flat bases and tops that often resemble cauliflower: as such clouds develop vertically, they form cumulonimbus.
Origin of cumulus
1650-60; < New Latin (Latin: mass, pile) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cumulus
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Hamlet points to a changing cumulus cloud, when he says to Polonius, "Do you see that cloud, that almost in shape like a camel?"

  • The moon was now well up, but hidden by a mass of cumulus cloud.

  • This form has none of the characteristics of the cumulus, and does not appear in the same stratum.

    The Philosophy of the Weather Thomas Belden Butler
  • As the cumulus belongs to the day, so does the Stratus to the night.

    The Rain Cloud Anonymous
  • They assume at different times and in different seasons, different shapes like those of the scud, the cumulus, or the stratus.

    The Philosophy of the Weather Thomas Belden Butler
  • There were cumulus clouds of varying closeness all the time.

    Farthest North Fridtjof Nansen
  • A horizontal sheet of cloud, with cirrus above and cumulus beneath; it is better known as the nimbus or rain-cloud.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • cumulus clouds on sunny days are generally at altitudes of 4000 to 7000 feet.

    Visual Illusions Matthew Luckiesh
British Dictionary definitions for cumulus


noun (pl) -li (-ˌlaɪ)
a bulbous or billowing white or dark grey cloud associated with rising air currents Compare cirrus (sense 1), stratus
(histology) the mass of cells surrounding a recently ovulated egg cell in a Graafian follicle
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: mass
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 cumulus

1650s, "a heap," from Latin cumulus "a heap, pile, mass, surplus," from PIE *ku-m-olo-, suffixed shortened form of root *keue- "to swell" (cf. Sanskrit svayati "swells up, is strong," Greek kyein "to swell," Lithuanian šaunas "firm, solid, fit, capable"). Meteorological use for "rounded mass of clouds" first attested 1803.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cumulus in Science
Plural cumuli (kym'yə-lī')
A dense, white, fluffy cloud with a flat base, a multiple rounded top, and a well-defined outline. The bases of cumulus clouds form primarily in altitudes below 2,000 m (6,560 ft), but their tops can reach much higher. Cumulus clouds are generally associated with fair weather but can also bring rain when they expand to higher levels. The clouds' edges are well-defined when they are composed of water droplets and fuzzy when made up of ice crystals. See illustration at cloud.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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