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[awr-guh n] /ˈɔr gən/
Also called pipe organ. a musical instrument consisting of one or more sets of pipes sounded by means of compressed air, played by means of one or more keyboards, and capable of producing a wide range of musical effects.
any of various similar instruments, as a reed organ or an electronic organ.
Biology. a grouping of tissues into a distinct structure, as a heart or kidney in animals or a leaf or stamen in plants, that performs a specialized task.
a newspaper, magazine, or other means of communicating information, thoughts, or opinions, especially in behalf of some organization, political group, or the like.
an instrument or means, as of action or performance:
This committee will be the chief organ of administration.
Archaic. any of various musical instruments, especially wind, instruments.
Origin of organ
before 1000; Middle English: musical instrument, pipe organ, organ of the body, tool (< Medieval Latin, Latin organum mechanical device, instrument) < Greek órganon implement, tool, bodily organ, musical instrument, akin to érgon work
Related forms
interorgan, adjective
multiorgan, adjective
6. publication, journal, instrument, channel. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for organs


  1. Also called pipe organ. a large complex musical keyboard instrument in which sound is produced by means of a number of pipes arranged in sets or stops, supplied with air from a bellows. The largest instruments possess three or more manuals and one pedal keyboard and have the greatest range of any instrument
  2. (as modifier): organ pipe, organ stop, organ loft
any instrument, such as a harmonium, in which sound is produced in this way See also reed organ, harmonica
short for electric organ (sense 1a), electronic organ
a fully differentiated structural and functional unit, such as a kidney or a root, in an animal or plant
an agency or medium of communication, esp a periodical issued by a specialist group or party
an instrument with which something is done or accomplished
a euphemistic word for penis
Word Origin
C13: from Old French organe, from Latin organum implement, from Greek organon tool; compare Greek ergein to work
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 organs



fusion of late Old English organe, and Old French orgene (12c.), both meaning "musical instrument," both from Latin organa, plural of organum "a musical instrument," from Greek organon "implement, tool for making or doing; musical instrument; organ of sense, organ of the body," literally "that with which one works," from PIE *werg-ano-, from root *werg- "to do," related to Greek ergon "work" and Old English weorc (see urge (v.)).

Applied vaguely in late Old English to musical instruments; sense narrowed by late 14c. to the musical instrument now known by that name (involving pipes supplied with wind by a bellows and worked by means of keys), though Augustine (c.400) knew this as a specific sense of Latin organa. The meaning "body part adapted to a certain function" is attested from late 14c., from a Medieval Latin sense of Latin organum. Organist is first recorded 1590s; organ-grinder is attested from 1806.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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organs in Medicine

organ or·gan (ôr'gən)
A differentiated part of the body that performs a specific function.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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organs in Science
A distinct part of an organism that performs one or more specialized functions. Examples of organs are the eyes, ears, lungs, and heart of an animal, and the roots, stems, and leaves of a plant.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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organs in Culture

organ definition

Part of a living thing, distinct from the other parts, that is adapted for a specific function. Organs are made up of tissues and are grouped into systems, such as the digestive system.

Note: The brain, liver, and skin are organs.
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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