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[awr-guh-nel, awr-guh-nel]
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  1. Cell Biology. a specialized part of a cell having some specific function; a cell organ.

Origin of organelle

1905–10; < New Latin organella, diminutive of Latin organum organ; see -elle
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for organelles

Contemporary Examples

British Dictionary definitions for organelles


  1. a structural and functional unit, such as a mitochondrion, in a cell or unicellular organism

Word Origin

C20: from New Latin organella, from Latin organum: see organ
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 organelles



1909, from Modern Latin organella, a diminutive from Latin organum "instrument," in Medieval Latin "organ of the body" (see organ).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

organelles in Medicine


  1. A differentiated structure within a cell, such as a mitochondrion, vacuole, or microsome, that performs a specific function.organoid
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

organelles in Science


  1. A structure or part that is enclosed within its own membrane inside a cell and has a particular function. Organelles are found only in eukaryotic cells and are absent from the cells of prokaryotes such as bacteria. The nucleus, the mitochondrion, the chloroplast, the Golgi apparatus, the lysosome, and the endoplasmic reticulum are all examples of organelles. Some organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, have their own genome (genetic material) separate from that found in the nucleus of the cell. Such organelles are thought to have their evolutionary origin in symbiotic bacteria or other organisms that have become a permanent part of the cell.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

organelles in Culture



Parts of a cell that store food, discharge waste, produce energy, or perform other functions analogous to what organs do in large living things.

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.