[ sel ]
See synonyms for: cellcells on Thesaurus.com

  1. a small room, as in a convent or prison.

  2. any of various small compartments or bounded areas forming part of a whole.

  1. a small group acting as a unit within a larger organization: a local cell of the Communist party.

  2. Biology. a usually microscopic structure containing nuclear and cytoplasmic material enclosed by a semipermeable membrane and, in plants, a cell wall; the basic structural unit of all organisms.

  3. Entomology. one of the areas into which the wing of an insect is divided by the veins.

  4. Botany. locule.

  5. Electricity.

    • Also called battery, electric cell, electrochemical cell, galvanic cell, voltaic cell. a device that generates electrical energy from chemical energy, usually consisting of two different conducting substances placed in an electrolyte.: Compare dry cell.

  6. Also called electrolytic cell. Physical Chemistry. a device for producing electrolysis, consisting essentially of the electrolyte, its container, and the electrodes.

  7. Aeronautics. the gas container of a balloon.

  8. Ecclesiastical. a monastery or nunnery, usually small, dependent on a larger religious house.

  9. Telecommunications.

    • one of the distinct geographical areas covered by a radio transmitter in a cellular phone system.

verb (used without object)
  1. to live in a cell: The two prisoners had celled together for three years.

Origin of cell

First recorded before 1150; 1665–75 for def. 4; Middle English celle, from Old French celle, from Medieval Latin cella “monastic cell,” Latin: “room”; Old English cell, from Medieval Latin, as above; see cella

Other words from cell

  • cell-like, adjective

Words Nearby cell

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use cell in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cell (1 of 2)


/ (sɛl) /

  1. a small simple room, as in a prison, convent, monastery, or asylum; cubicle

  2. any small compartment: the cells of a honeycomb

  1. biology the basic structural and functional unit of living organisms. It consists of a nucleus, containing the genetic material, surrounded by the cytoplasm in which are mitochondria, lysosomes, ribosomes, and other organelles. All cells are bounded by a cell membrane; plant cells have an outer cell wall in addition

  2. biology any small cavity or area, such as the cavity containing pollen in an anther

  3. a device for converting chemical energy into electrical energy, usually consisting of a container with two electrodes immersed in an electrolyte: See also primary cell, secondary cell, dry cell, wet cell, fuel cell

  4. a small religious house dependent upon a larger one

  5. a small group of persons operating as a nucleus of a larger political, religious, or other organization: Communist cell

  6. maths a small unit of volume in a mathematical coordinate system

  7. zoology one of the areas on an insect wing bounded by veins

  8. the geographical area served by an individual transmitter in a cellular radio network

Origin of cell

C12: from Medieval Latin cella monk's cell, from Latin: room, storeroom; related to Latin cēlāre to hide

Derived forms of cell

  • cell-like, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for cell (2 of 2)


/ (sɛl) /

  1. a variant spelling of cel

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 cell


[ sĕl ]

  1. The basic unit of living matter in all organisms, consisting of protoplasm enclosed within a cell membrane. All cells except bacterial cells have a distinct nucleus that contains the cell's DNA as well as other structures (called organelles) that include mitochondria, the endoplasmic reticulum, and vacuoles. The main source of energy for all of a cell's biological processes is ATP. See more at eukaryote prokaryote.

  2. Any of various devices, or units within such devices, that are capable of converting some form of energy into electricity. Cells contain two electrodes and an electrolyte. See more at electrolytic cell solar cell voltaic cell.

Other words from cell

  • cellular adjective

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

Cultural definitions for cell (1 of 2)


The basic unit of all living things except viruses. In advanced organisms, cells consist of a nucleus (which contains genetic material), cytoplasm, and organelles, all of which are surrounded by a cell membrane.

Notes for cell

Groups of cells with similar structure and function form tissues.

A region of the atmosphere in which air tends to circulate without flowing outward.

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.