• synonyms


[al-vee-uh-luh s]
See more synonyms for alveolus on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural al·ve·o·li [al-vee-uh-lahy] /ælˈvi əˌlaɪ/.
  1. a little cavity, pit, or cell, as a cell of a honeycomb.
  2. an air cell of the lungs, formed by the terminal dilation of tiny air passageways.
  3. one of the terminal secretory units of a racemose gland.
  4. the socket within the jawbone in which the root or roots of a tooth are set.
Show More

Origin of alveolus

1700–10; < Latin, equivalent to alve(us) concave vessel + -olus -ole1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for alveoli

Historical Examples

  • The pores or alveoli are angular elongated, white at first, then straw-color.

    The Mushroom, Edible and Otherwise

    M. E. Hard

  • The state of the alveoli and the teeth, shows that the molars had not yet pierced the gum.

  • Pertaining to the alveoli, the cavities for the reception of the teeth.

    A Practical Physiology

    Albert F. Blaisdell

  • Its alveoli in one maxilla are closed and those in the opposite maxilla are more open than is normal.

  • Owing to the absence of superior incisors in ruminants, the intermaxillary bone presents no alveoli.

British Dictionary definitions for alveoli


noun plural -li (-ˌlaɪ)
  1. any small pit, cavity, or saclike dilation, such as a honeycomb cell
  2. any of the sockets in which the roots of the teeth are embedded
  3. any of the tiny air sacs in the lungs at the end of the bronchioles, through which oxygen is taken into the blood
Show More

Word Origin

C18: from Latin: a little hollow, diminutive of alveus
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 alveoli



1706, from Latin alveolus "a tray, trough, basin; bed of a small river," diminutive of alvus "belly, stomach, paunch, bowels; hold of a ship," from PIE *aulo- "hole, cavity" (cf. Greek aulos "tube, pipe," Old Church Slavonic uliji, Lithuanian aulys "beehive" (hollow trunk), Armenian yli "pregnant").

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

alveoli in Medicine


n. pl. al•ve•o•li (-lī′)
  1. A small angular cavity or pit, such as a tooth socket or an air sac.
Show More
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

alveoli in Science


Plural alveoli (ăl-vēə-lī′)
  1. Any of the tiny air-filled sacs arranged in clusters in the lungs, in which the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. Also called air sac
Show More
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.