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capillary

[kap-uh-ler-ee]
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adjective
  1. pertaining to or occurring in or as if in a tube of fine bore.
  2. resembling a strand of hair; hairlike.
  3. Physics.
    1. pertaining to capillarity.
    2. of or relating to the apparent attraction or repulsion between a liquid and a solid, observed in capillarity.
  4. Anatomy. pertaining to a capillary or capillaries.
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noun, plural cap·il·lar·ies.
  1. Anatomy. one of the minute blood vessels between the terminations of the arteries and the beginnings of the veins.
  2. Also called capillary tube. a tube with a small bore.
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Origin of capillary

1570–80; capill(ar) (obsolete, < Latin capillāris pertaining to hair, equivalent to capill(us) hair + -āris -ar1) + -ary
Related formsin·ter·cap·il·lar·y, adjectivenon·cap·il·lar·y, adjective, noun, plural non·cap·il·lar·ies.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

hairnerveseamlodestripearteryveincapillarystreakthreadductcurrentcoursestratumvenationfolliclearteriolemetarteriolevenule

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British Dictionary definitions for capillary

capillary

adjective
  1. resembling a hair; slender
  2. (of tubes) having a fine bore
  3. anatomy of or relating to any of the delicate thin-walled blood vessels that form an interconnecting network between the arterioles and the venules
  4. physics of or relating to capillarity
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noun plural -laries
  1. anatomy any of the capillary blood vessels
  2. a fine hole or narrow passage in any substance
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Word Origin

C17: from Latin capillāris, from capillus hair
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 capillary

adj.

1650s, "of or pertaining to the hair," from Latin capillaris "of hair," from capillus "hair" (of the head); perhaps related to caput "head" (but de Vaan finds this "difficult on the formal side" and "far from compelling, since capillus is a diminutive, and would mean 'little head', which hardly amounts to 'hair'"). Borrowed earlier as capillar (14c.). Meaning "taking place in capillary vessels" is from 1809. Capillary attraction attested from 1813. As a noun, "capillary blood vessel," from 1660s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

capillary in Medicine

capillary

(kăpə-lĕr′ē)
adj.
  1. Of or relating to the capillaries.
  2. Relating to or resembling a hair; fine and slender.
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n.
  1. Blood capillary.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

capillary in Science

capillary

[kăpə-lĕr′ē]
  1. Any of the tiny blood vessels that connect the smallest arteries (arterioles) to the smallest veins (venules). Capillaries form a network throughout the body for the exchange of oxygen, metabolic waste products, and carbon dioxide between blood and tissue cells.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

capillary in Culture

capillary

[(kap-uh-ler-ee)]

A thin tube, such as a blood vessel or a straw, through which fluids flow.

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Note

The interaction between the fluid and the vessel walls produces a force that can lift the fluid up into the tube, a phenomenon known as capillary action.
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.