[kuh n-trak-tl, -til]


capable of contracting or causing contraction.

Origin of contractile

First recorded in 1700–10; contract + -ile
Related formscon·trac·til·i·ty [kon-trak-til-i-tee] /ˌkɒn trækˈtɪl ɪ ti/, nounun·con·trac·tile, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for contractile

Historical Examples of contractile

  • Their protoplasm is contractile and their form varies according to the species.

  • They are contractile, and propagated by spontaneous division, or fission.

    The Ocean World:

    Louis Figuier

  • The general tissue is transparent, glossy, cellular, and contractile.

    The Ocean World:

    Louis Figuier

  • The polype is remarkable for the protrusion and contractile power of its lips.


    Charles Kingsley

  • It is to the contractile power of the muscles that you are indebted for this power.

British Dictionary definitions for contractile



having the power to contract or to cause contraction
Derived Formscontractility (ˌkɒntrækˈtɪlɪtɪ), noun
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 contractile

1706, from French contractile, from Latin contract-, past participle stem of contrahere (see contract (n.)). Related: Contractility. Contractile vacuole is from 1877.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

contractile in Medicine


[kən-trăktəl, -tīl′]


Capable of contracting or causing contraction, as a tissue.
Related formscon′trac•tili•ty (kŏn′trăk-tĭlĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.