• synonyms


[fol-i-kuh l]
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  1. Anatomy.
    1. a small cavity, sac, or gland.
    2. one of the small ovarian sacs containing an immature ovum; Graafian follicle.
  2. Botany. a dry seed vessel, or pod, consisting of a single carpel, splitting at maturity only along the front part of the suture.
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Origin of follicle

First recorded in 1640–50, follicle is from the Latin word folliculus small bag, shell, pod. See follis, -cle1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for follicle

hair, nerve, seam, lode, stripe, germ, egg, unit, bacterium, streak, thread, duct, current, course, stratum, venation, follicle, capillary, embryo, microorganism

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British Dictionary definitions for follicle


  1. any small sac or cavity in the body having an excretory, secretory, or protective functiona hair follicle
  2. botany a dry fruit, formed from a single carpel, that splits along one side only to release its seeds: occurs in larkspur and columbine
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Derived Formsfollicular (fɒˈlɪkjʊlə), folliculate (fɒˈlɪkjʊˌleɪt) or folliculated, adjective

Word Origin for follicle

C17: from Latin folliculus small bag, from follis pair of bellows, leather money-bag
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 follicle


early 15c., from French follicule or directly from Latin folliculus "little bag," diminutive of follis "bellows, inflated ball," from PIE *bhol-n-, suffixed form of root *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (see bole).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

follicle in Medicine


  1. A small bodily cavity or sac.
  2. A crypt or minute cul-de-sac or lacuna, such as the depression in the skin from which the hair emerges.
  3. An ovarian follicle.
  4. A spherical mass of cells usually containing a cavity.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

follicle in Science


  1. A small, protective sac, gland, or cluster of cells in the body. In mammals, unfertilized eggs develop in follicles located in the ovaries. Hair grows from follicles in the skin.
  2. A dry, dehiscent fruit that develops from a single carpel, has a single chamber, and splits open along only one seam to release its seeds. The pod of the milkweed and the fruit of the magnolia are follicles.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.