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[oh-sel-uh s] /oʊˈsɛl əs/
noun, plural ocelli
[oh-sel-ahy] /oʊˈsɛl aɪ/ (Show IPA)
a type of simple eye common to invertebrates, consisting of retinal cells, pigments, and nerve fibers.
an eyelike spot, as on a peacock feather.
Origin of ocellus
1810-20; < Latin: little eye, diminutive of oculus eye; see -elle Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ocelli
Historical Examples
  • Only ocelli, as these eyes are called, are found in the spider and his kind.

  • These ocelli are frequently arranged in series on each side.

    The Butterfly Book William Jacob Holland
  • The female is paler and the ocelli are larger and more distinct than in charon.

    The Butterfly Book William Jacob Holland
  • Antenn longer than the head; or if shorter, then the eyes and ocelli absent.

    Handbook of Medical Entomology William Albert Riley
  • Third segment of the antenna with five divisions; ocelli present.

    Handbook of Medical Entomology William Albert Riley
  • Yes, John, the time may come when the ocelli will disappear from the insects.

    The Insect Folk Margaret Warner Morley
  • Outside the ocelli run numerous pale yellow longitudinal stripes on a nearly black background.

    Birds in Flight W. P. Pycraft
  • The antennæ are inserted high up on the head, next the ocelli, falling down over the clypeal region.

    Our Common Insects Alpheus Spring Packard
  • Circular spots are sometimes surrounded by one or more differently shaded zones, and are thus converted into ocelli.

  • But the breast of the Polyplectron is obscurely coloured, and the ocelli are not confined to the tail-feathers.

British Dictionary definitions for ocelli


noun (pl) -li (-laɪ)
the simple eye of insects and some other invertebrates, consisting basically of light-sensitive cells
any eyelike marking in animals, such as the eyespot on the tail feather of a peacock
  1. an enlarged discoloured cell in a leaf
  2. a swelling on the sporangium of certain fungi
Derived Forms
ocellar, adjective
ocellate (ˈɒsɪˌleɪt), ocellated (ˈɒsɪˌleɪtɪd) adjective
ocellation, noun
Word Origin
C19: via New Latin from Latin: small eye, from oculus eye
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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ocelli in Science
Plural ocelli (ō-sěl'ī')
  1. A small, simple eye or eyespot, found in many invertebrates.

  2. A marking that resembles an eye, as on the wings of some butterflies.

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