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[lenz] /lɛnz/
noun, plural lenses.
a piece of transparent substance, usually glass, having two opposite surfaces either both curved or one curved and one plane, used in an optical device in changing the convergence of light rays, as for magnification, or in correcting defects of vision.
a combination of such pieces.
some analogous device, as for affecting sound waves, electromagnetic radiation, or streams of electrons.
Anatomy. crystalline lens.
Geology. a body of rock or ore that is thick in the middle and thinner toward the edges, similar in shape to a biconvex lens.
verb (used with object)
Movies. to film (a motion picture).
Origin of lens
1685-95; < New Latin, special use of Latin lēns a lentil (from its shape); see lentil
Related forms
lensless, adjective
lenslike, adjective
unlensed, adjective


[len] /lɛn/
a male given name, form of Leonard. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lens
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A lens gleamed transparent in the sunlight from the open end.

    Slaves of Mercury Nat Schachner
  • He uncovered the lens of his dark lantern and turned the ray on Wixy.

  • This is exposed to the light that shines through the lens of the camera.

    Common Science Carleton W. Washburne
  • Then the lens bends it together again until it comes to a point.

    Common Science Carleton W. Washburne
  • The kind of lens we have been talking about is the convex lens.

    Common Science Carleton W. Washburne
British Dictionary definitions for lens


a piece of glass or other transparent material, used to converge or diverge transmitted light and form optical images
Also called compound lens. a combination of such lenses for forming images or concentrating a beam of light
a device that diverges or converges a beam of electromagnetic radiation, sound, or particles See electron lens
(anatomy) See crystalline lens
adjective lenticular
Word Origin
C17: from Latin lēns lentil, referring to the similarity of a lens to the shape of a lentil


/lenz; French lɑ̃/
an industrial town in N France, in the Pas de Calais department; badly damaged in both World Wars. Pop: 36 206 (1999)
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 lens

1690s, "glass to regulate light rays," from Latin lens (genitive lentis) "lentil," on analogy of the double-convex shape. See lentil. Of the eye from 1719.

In the vernacular of the photographer, anyone crowding to the front of a group, staring into the lens, or otherwise attracting attention to himself is known as a "lens louse." ["American Photography," vol. 40, 1946; the term dates from 1915]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lens in Medicine

lens (lěnz)
n. pl. lens·es

  1. A ground or molded piece of glass, plastic, or other transparent material with opposite surfaces either or both of which are curved, by means of which light rays are refracted so that they converge or diverge to form an image.

  2. A transparent, biconvex body of the eye between the iris and the vitreous humor that focuses light rays entering through the pupil to form an image on the retina.

lensed adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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lens in Science

  1. A transparent structure behind the iris of the eye that focuses light entering the eye on the retina.

    1. A piece of glass or plastic shaped so as to focus or spread light rays that pass through it, often for the purpose of forming an image.

    2. A combination of two or more such lenses, as in a camera or telescope. Also called compound lens.

  2. A device that causes radiation to converge or diverge by an action analogous to that of an optical lens. The system of electric fields used to focus electron beams in electron microscopes is an example of a lens.

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

lens definition

A piece of transparent material, such as glass, that forms an image from the rays of light passing through it. (See focal length, refraction, and telescope.)

lens definition

A clear, almost spherical structure located just behind the pupil of the eye. The lens focuses waves of light on the retina.

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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