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  1. Anatomy.
    1. a cell, group of cells, or organ producing a secretion.
    2. any of various organs or structures resembling the shape but not the function of true glands.
  2. Botany. a secreting organ or structure.

Origin of gland1

1685–95; < Latin gland- (stem of glāns acorn); compare Italian ghianda
Related formsgland·less, adjectivegland·like, adjective


noun Machinery.
  1. a sleeve within a stuffing box, fitted over a shaft or valve stem and tightened against compressible packing in such a way as to prevent leakage of fluid while allowing the shaft or stem to move; lantern ring.
  2. stuffing box.

Origin of gland2

First recorded in 1830–40; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for glands


  1. a cell or organ in man and other animals that synthesizes chemical substances and secretes them for the body to use or eliminate, either through a duct (exocrine gland) or directly into the bloodstream (endocrine gland)See also exocrine gland, endocrine gland
  2. a structure, such as a lymph node, that resembles a gland in form
  3. a cell or organ in plants that synthesizes and secretes a particular substance
Related formsRelated adjective: adenoid
Derived Formsglandlike, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from Latin glāns acorn


  1. a device that prevents leakage of fluid along a rotating shaft or reciprocating rod passing through a boundary between areas of high and low pressure. It often consists of a flanged metal sleeve bedding into a stuffing box

Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin
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

Word Origin and History for glands



1690s, from French glande (Old French glandre, 13c.), from Latin glandula "gland of the throat, tonsil," diminutive of glans (genitive glandis) "acorn, nut; acorn-shaped ball," from PIE root *gwele- "acorn" (cf. Greek balanos, Armenian kalin, Old Church Slavonic zelodi "acorn;" Lithuanian gile "oak"). Earlier English form was glandula (c.1400).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

glands in Medicine


  1. A cell, a group of cells, or an organ that produces a secretion for use in or for elimination from the body.
  2. Any of various organs, such as lymph nodes, that resemble true glands but perform a nonsecretory function.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

glands in Science


  1. An organ or group of specialized cells in the body that produces and secretes a specific substance, such as a hormone. See also endocrine gland exocrine gland.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

glands in Culture


Organs or groups of cells that take substances from the blood and change them chemically so that they can be secreted later for further use by the body. There are two kinds of glands: those that secrete their substances directly into the bloodstream (endocrine glands), and those that secrete their substances through channels or ducts (such as sweat glands and salivary glands).

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.