[ ak-son ]
/ ˈæk sɒn /
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Cell Biology. the appendage of the neuron that transmits impulses away from the cell body.
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Also ax·one [ak-sohn]. /ˈæk soʊn/.

Origin of axon

1835–45; <New Latin <Greek áxōn an axle, axis; akin to Latin axis


ax·on·al [ak-suh-nl, ‐son-l], /ˈæk sə nl, ‐ˌsɒn l/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is an axon?

The axon is the part of the neuron that carries impulses away from the cell body.

Neurons are the cells that gather information in the form of impulses and send them throughout the body. The neuron is made up of the cell body, the dendrites, and the axon.

The axon, also called the nerve fiber, resembles a long, threadlike fiber. Most neurons only have a single axon. In vertebrates, the axon is covered by a myelin sheath made mostly of fat, protein, and water. The sheath increases the speed that impulses travel.

The axon’s job is to move the impulses away from the cell body to another neuron or a muscle. The travel process is similar to electricity moving down a wire. At the end of an axon are bulbous structures called axon terminals, which form special junctions that connect the axon to other neurons or muscles. These junctions, called synapses, involve tiny gaps that the impulse jumps over to leave the axon. The impulse then travels through the new neuron and will eventually move through another axon. This process will repeat until the impulse reaches its destination.

Why is axon important?

The first records of the term axon come from around 1835. It comes from the Greek áxōn, meaning “axle or axis.”

In a manner of speaking, the axon acts as the main road leading out of the “city” of the cell body. Impulses can travel through the axon very quickly and range in speeds from 1 to 100 meters per second. This very fast speed explains why your finger will move away really quickly if you poke yourself on a sharp needle.

Did you know … ?

Depending on where they are located, axons can vary in length. Most axons are smaller than a millimeter, but the axons found in the neurons located in the spinal cord can stretch for over a meter.

What are real-life examples of axon?

The axon is one of the three major parts of a neuron that students learn about when studying the nervous system.


What other words are related to neuron?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

The axon carries impulses toward the cell body.

How to use axon in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for axon


axone (ˈæksəʊn)

/ (ˈæksɒn) /

the long threadlike extension of a nerve cell that conducts nerve impulses from the cell bodyCompare dendrite

Derived forms of axon

axonal, adjective

Word Origin for axon

C19: via New Latin from Greek: axis, axle, vertebra
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 axon

[ ăksŏn′ ]

The long portion of a neuron that conducts impulses away from the body of the cell. Also called nerve fiber
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for axon


The part of a nerve cell or neuron that transfers a nerve impulse from the nerve cell body to a synapse with another cell. (See action potential.) Depending on the location of the cell, the length of an axon can vary widely. In some cases (such as the axons that form the spinal cord), they may be several feet long.

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.