[mahy-tuh-kon-dree-uh n]

noun, plural mi·to·chon·dri·a [mahy-tuh-kon-dree-uh] /ˌmaɪ təˈkɒn dri ə/. Cell Biology.

an organelle in the cytoplasm of cells that functions in energy production.

Origin of mitochondrion

1900–05; < Greek míto(s) thread + chóndrion small grain, equivalent to chóndr(os) grain, corn + -ion diminutive suffix
Related formsmi·to·chon·dri·al, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for mitochondria


noun plural -dria (-drɪə)

a small spherical or rodlike body, bounded by a double membrane, in the cytoplasm of most cells: contains enzymes responsible for energy productionAlso called: chondriosome
Derived Formsmitochondrial, adjective

Word Origin for mitochondrion

C19: New Latin, from Greek mitos thread + khondrion small grain
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 mitochondria

1901, from German, coined 1898 by microbiologist Carl Benda (1857-1933), from Greek mitos "thread" (see mitre) + khondrion "little granule," diminutive of khondros "granule, lump of salt" (see grind (v.)).



singular of mitochondria.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mitochondria in Medicine



n. pl. mi•to•chon•dri•a (-drē-ə)

A spherical or elongated organelle in the cytoplasm of nearly all eukaryotic cells, containing genetic material and many enzymes important for cell metabolism, including those responsible for the conversion of food to usable energy. It consists of two membranes: an outer smooth membrane and an inner membrane arranged to form cristae.
Related formsmi′to•chondri•al (-drē-əl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

mitochondria in Science



Plural mitochondria

A structure in the cytoplasm of all cells except bacteria in which food molecules (sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids) are broken down in the presence of oxygen and converted to energy in the form of ATP. Mitochondria have an inner and outer membrane. The inner membrane has many twists and folds (called cristae), which increase the surface area available to proteins and their associative reactions. The inner membrane encloses a liquid containing DNA, RNA, small ribosomes, and solutes. The DNA in mitochondria is genetically distinct from that in the cell nucleus, and mitochondria can manufacture some of their own proteins independent of the rest of the cell. Each cell can contain thousands of mitochondria, which move about producing ATP in response to the cell's need for chemical energy. It is thought that mitochondria originated as separate, single-celled organisms that became so symbiotic with their hosts as to be indispensible. Mitochondrial DNA is thus considered a remnant of a past existence as a separate organism. See more at cell cellular respiration.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

mitochondria in Culture



The cell organelle where much of cellular respiration takes place; the “power plant” of the cell.


Mitochondria probably entered eukaryotes by an act of endosymbiosis, in which one simple cell was absorbed by another.


Mitochondria contain their own DNA. It is by tracing the mitochondrial DNA, which individuals inherit only from their mothers, that genetic linkages are often traced. (See mitochondrial Eve.)
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.