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[thahy-muh s] /ˈθaɪ məs/
noun, plural thymuses, thymi
[thahy-mahy] /ˈθaɪ maɪ/ (Show IPA).
a ductless, butterfly-shaped gland lying at the base of the neck, formed mostly of lymphatic tissue and aiding in the production of T cells of the immune system: after puberty, the lymphatic tissue gradually degenerates.
Also called thymus gland.
Origin of thymus
1685-95; < New Latin < Greek thýmos warty excrescence, thymus Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for thymus gland
Historical Examples
  • The thymus gland, which lies near the heart and is often called the heart sweetbread, is the best one.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 3 Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
  • He recognized the opening of the common biliary duct, and was the first to give a good description of the thymus gland.

    The Popes and Science James J. Walsh
  • Within the thoracic cavity anterior to the heart note a mass of pinkish tissue, the thymus gland.

  • After respiration they expand and occupy the whole thorax, and closely surround the heart and thymus gland.

    Aids to Forensic Medicine and Toxicology W. G. Aitchison Robertson
  • Sweetbread, which is thymus gland of the calf, is a delicate and agreeable article of diet, particularly for invalids.

  • It is nearly always accompanied by a distinct hypertrophy of the thymus gland.

  • The thymus gland attains a considerable development in the embryo and shrinks away to the merest vestige in the adult.

    Man And His Ancestor Charles Morris
  • Of the four basic components on the right, thymine occurs in the nucleic acid from the thymus gland.

    History of Phosphorus Eduard Farber
British Dictionary definitions for thymus gland


noun (pl) -muses, -mi (-maɪ)
a glandular organ of vertebrates, consisting in man of two lobes situated below the thyroid. In early life it produces lymphocytes and is thought to influence certain immunological responses. It atrophies with age and is almost nonexistent in the adult
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin, from Greek thumos sweetbread
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 thymus gland



gland near the base of the neck, 1690s, Modern Latin, from Greek thymos "a warty excrescence," used of the gland by Galen, literally "thyme," probably so called because of a fancied resemblance to a bunch of thyme (see thyme).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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thymus gland in Medicine

thymus thy·mus (thī'məs)
n. pl. thy·mus·es

  1. A lymphoid organ that is located in the superior mediastinum and lower part of the neck and is necessary in early life for the normal development of immunological function.

  2. The thymus of a calf or lamb.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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thymus gland in Science
An organ of the lymphatic system located behind the upper sternum (breastbone). T cells (T lymphocytes) develop and mature in the thymus before entering the circulation. In humans, the thymus stops growing in early childhood and gradually shrinks in size through adulthood, resulting in a gradual decline in immune system function.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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thymus gland in Culture
thymus gland [(theye-muhs)]

A gland located behind the breastbone that functions in the development of the immune system. The thymus is large in infancy and early childhood but begins to atrophy between ages eight and ten.

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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