[ ap-uh-toh-sis, ap-uhp‐ ]

  1. a normal, genetically regulated process leading to the death of cells and triggered by the presence or absence of certain stimuli, as DNA damage.

Origin of apoptosis

1970–75; New Latin <Greek apόptōsis a falling off, equivalent to apo- apo- + ptōsis ptosis
  • Also called programmed cell death .

Other words from apoptosis

  • ap·op·tot·ic [ap-uh-tot-ik, ap-uhp‐], /ˌæp əˈtɒt ɪk, ˌæp əp‐/, adjective

Words Nearby apoptosis

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How to use apoptosis in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for apoptosis


/ (ˌæpəpˈtəʊsɪs) /

  1. biology the programmed death of some of an organism's cells as part of its natural growth and development: Also called: programmed cell death

Origin of apoptosis

C20: from Greek: a falling away, from apo- + ptōsis a falling

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

Scientific definitions for apoptosis


[ ăp′əp-tōsĭs, ăp′ə-tō- ]

  1. A natural process of self-destruction in certain cells, such as epithelial cells and erythrocytes, that are genetically programmed to have a limited life span or are damaged. Apoptosis can be induced either by a stimulus, such as irradiation or toxic drugs, or by removal of a repressor agent. The cells disintegrate into membrane-bound particles that are then eliminated by phagocytosis. Also called programmed cell death

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for apoptosis


[ (ap-uhp-toh-sis) ]

The programmed death of a cell. Scientists believe that this process is governed by chemical signals a given cell receives from its neighbors.

Notes for apoptosis

It is thought some forms of cancer may result when this process of cell death is somehow interrupted, allowing cells to grow unchecked, with the result being a cancerous tumor.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.