[ lenz ]
See synonyms for: lenslensedlenseslensing on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural lens·es.
  1. a piece of transparent substance, usually glass, having two opposite surfaces either both curved or one curved and one plane, used in an optical device in changing the convergence of light rays, as for magnification, or in correcting defects of vision.

  2. a combination of such pieces.

  1. some analogous device, as for affecting sound waves, electromagnetic radiation, or streams of electrons.

  2. Anatomy. crystalline lens.

  3. Geology. a body of rock or ore that is thick in the middle and thinner toward the edges, similar in shape to a biconvex lens.

verb (used with object)
  1. Movies. to film (a motion picture).

Origin of lens

First recorded in 1685–95; from New Latin, special use of Latin lēns “a lentil” (from its shape); see lentil

Other words from lens

  • lensless, adjective
  • lenslike, adjective
  • un·lensed, adjective

Words Nearby lens

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

How to use lens in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for lens (1 of 2)


/ (lɛnz) /

  1. a piece of glass or other transparent material, used to converge or diverge transmitted light and form optical images

  2. Also called: compound lens a combination of such lenses for forming images or concentrating a beam of light

  1. a device that diverges or converges a beam of electromagnetic radiation, sound, or particles: See electron lens

  2. anatomy See crystalline lens

Origin of lens

C17: from Latin lēns lentil, referring to the similarity of a lens to the shape of a lentil

Other words from lens

  • Related adjective: lenticular

British Dictionary definitions for Lens (2 of 2)


/ (lenz, French lɑ̃) /

  1. an industrial town in N France, in the Pas de Calais department; badly damaged in both World Wars. Pop: 36 206 (1999)

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 lens


[ lĕnz ]

  1. A transparent structure behind the iris of the eye that focuses light entering the eye on the retina.

    • A piece of glass or plastic shaped so as to focus or spread light rays that pass through it, often for the purpose of forming an image.

    • A combination of two or more such lenses, as in a camera or telescope. Also called compound lens

  1. A device that causes radiation to converge or diverge by an action analogous to that of an optical lens. The system of electric fields used to focus electron beams in electron microscopes is an example of a lens.

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

Cultural definitions for lens (1 of 2)


A piece of transparent material, such as glass, that forms an image from the rays of light passing through it. (See focal length, refraction, and telescope.)


A clear, almost spherical structure located just behind the pupil of the eye. The lens focuses waves of light on the retina.

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.