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[puh-pil-uh] /pəˈpɪl ə/
noun, plural papillae
[puh-pil-ee] /pəˈpɪl i/ (Show IPA)
any small, nipplelike process or projection.
one of certain small protuberances concerned with the senses of touch, taste, and smell:
the papillae of the tongue.
a small vascular process at the root of a hair.
a papule or pimple.
Origin of papilla
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin: nipple, teat, diminutive of papula pimple. See pap2
Related forms
[pap-uh-ler, puh-pil-er] /ˈpæp ə lər, pəˈpɪl ər/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for papillae


noun (pl) -lae (-liː)
the small projection of tissue at the base of a hair, tooth, or feather
any other similar protuberance
any minute blunt hair or process occurring in plants
Derived Forms
papillary, papillate, papillose, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from Latin: nipple; related to Latin papula pimple
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 papillae



plural papillae, 1690s, "nipple," from Latin papilla "nipple," diminutive of papula "swelling" (see pap (n.2)). Meaning "nipple-like protuberance" attested from 1713.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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papillae in Medicine

papilla pa·pil·la (pə-pĭl'ə)
n. pl. pa·pil·lae (-pĭl'ē)

  1. A small nipplelike projection, such as a protuberance on the skin, at the root of a hair or feather, or at the base of a developing tooth.

  2. One of the small, round or cone-shaped protuberances on the top of the tongue that contain taste buds.

  3. A pimple or pustule.

pap'il·lar'y (pāp'ə-lěr'ē, pə-pĭl'ə-rē) adj.
pap'il·late' (pāp'ə-lāt', pə-pĭl'ĭt) adj.
pap·il·lose (pāp'ə-lōs', pə-pĭl'ōs') 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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papillae in Science
Plural papillae (pə-pĭl'ē)
A small part projecting from the surface of an organism. In mammals, the nipples of the mammary glands and the taste buds of the tongue are papillae. Papillae are often seen on the undersurfaces of mosses and ferns.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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