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[see-puh l] /ˈsi pəl/
noun, Botany.
one of the individual leaves or parts of the calyx of a flower.
Origin of sepal
< New Latin sepalum (1790), irregular coinage based on Greek sképē covering and Latin petalum petal
Related forms
sepaled, sepalled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sepal
Historical Examples
  • In one flower of the last-named species the perianth consisted of one sepal only, and one lip-like petal placed opposite to it.

    Vegetable Teratology

    Maxwell T. Masters
  • Petal and sepal are ‘stone-colour,’ warmed, one cannot say even tinged, with crimson.

    The Woodlands Orchids Frederick Boyle
  • White of sepal and petal, with the vast magenta-crimson lip of Hardyana.

    The Woodlands Orchids Frederick Boyle
  • White or palest rose of sepal and petal, the latter marked with purplish lines at the base.

    The Woodlands Orchids Frederick Boyle
  • The colour of sepal and petal pink, the throat yellow, the spreading disc magenta-crimson.

    The Woodlands Orchids Frederick Boyle
  • Harrisoniae in colour and size of sepal and petal; in general shape and in the hues of the labellum after L. purpurata.

    The Woodlands Orchids Frederick Boyle
  • Large, very broad of sepal and petal, pale yellow, blotched and spotted with brown.

    The Woodlands Orchids Frederick Boyle
  • In other flowers the sepals have grown together so they appear to be only one sepal.

  • It is thus used of the edge of the disk of the sun or moon, of the expanded part of a petal or sepal in botany, &c.

British Dictionary definitions for sepal


any of the separate parts of the calyx of a flower
Derived Forms
sepalled, sepalous (ˈsɛpələs) adjective
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin sepalum: sep-, from Greek skepē a covering + -alum, from New Latin petalumpetal
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 sepal

"leaf of the calyx," 1821, from French sépal, from Modern Latin sepalum (H.J. de Necker, 1790), coined from Latin separatus "separate, distinct" (see separate (v.)) + petalum "petal" (see petal).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sepal in Science
One of the usually separate, green parts that surround and protect the flower bud and extend from the base of a flower after it has opened. Sepals tend to occur in the same number as the petals and to be centered over the petal divisions. In some species sepals are colored like petals, and they can even be indistinguishable from petals, as in the lilies (in what are called tepals). In some groups, such as the poppies, the sepals fall off after the flower bud opens. See more at flower.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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