[ kap-uh-ler-ee ]
/ ˈkæp əˌlɛr i /
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pertaining to or occurring in or as if in a tube of fine bore.
resembling a strand of hair; hairlike.
  1. pertaining to capillarity.
  2. of or relating to the apparent attraction or repulsion between a liquid and a solid, observed in capillarity.
Anatomy. pertaining to a capillary or capillaries.

noun, plural cap·il·lar·ies.

Anatomy. one of the minute blood vessels between the terminations of the arteries and the beginnings of the veins.
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


in·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. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for capillary

British Dictionary definitions for capillary

/ (kəˈpɪlərɪ) /


resembling a hair; slender
(of tubes) having a fine bore
anatomy of or relating to any of the delicate thin-walled blood vessels that form an interconnecting network between the arterioles and the venules
physics of or relating to capillarity

noun plural -laries

anatomy any of the capillary blood vessels
a fine hole or narrow passage in any substance

Word Origin for capillary

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

Medical definitions for capillary

[ kăpə-lĕr′ē ]


Of or relating to the capillaries.
Relating to or resembling a hair; fine and slender.


Blood capillary.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for capillary

[ kăpə-lĕr′ē ]

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

Cultural definitions for capillary

[ (kap-uh-ler-ee) ]

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

notes for capillary

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.