Origin of organ

before 1000; Middle English: musical instrument, pipe organ, organ of the body, tool (< Medieval Latin, Latin organum mechanical device, instrument) < Greek órganon implement, tool, bodily organ, musical instrument, akin to érgon work
Related formsin·ter·or·gan, adjectivemul·ti·or·gan, adjective

Synonyms for organ Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for organ

Contemporary Examples of organ

Historical Examples of organ

  • It need hardly be said that in any case it was not Handel's practice to compose his works on an organ.


    Edward J. Dent

  • For him the intellect as such is the organ of religious truth.

  • He could hear the music of the organ, and presently the choir began to sing an anthem.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • A mineral that gives off heat and stimulates the organ that a scientist is a fool with.

  • It consists in locating and exploiting the organ that one is a dupe with.

British Dictionary definitions for organ



  1. Also called: pipe organa large complex musical keyboard instrument in which sound is produced by means of a number of pipes arranged in sets or stops, supplied with air from a bellows. The largest instruments possess three or more manuals and one pedal keyboard and have the greatest range of any instrument
  2. (as modifier)organ pipe; organ stop; organ loft
any instrument, such as a harmonium, in which sound is produced in this waySee also reed organ, harmonica
a fully differentiated structural and functional unit, such as a kidney or a root, in an animal or plant
an agency or medium of communication, esp a periodical issued by a specialist group or party
an instrument with which something is done or accomplished
a euphemistic word for penis

Word Origin for organ

C13: from Old French organe, from Latin organum implement, from Greek organon tool; compare Greek ergein to work
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 organ

fusion of late Old English organe, and Old French orgene (12c.), both meaning "musical instrument," both from Latin organa, plural of organum "a musical instrument," from Greek organon "implement, tool for making or doing; musical instrument; organ of sense, organ of the body," literally "that with which one works," from PIE *werg-ano-, from root *werg- "to do," related to Greek ergon "work" and Old English weorc (see urge (v.)).

Applied vaguely in late Old English to musical instruments; sense narrowed by late 14c. to the musical instrument now known by that name (involving pipes supplied with wind by a bellows and worked by means of keys), though Augustine (c.400) knew this as a specific sense of Latin organa. The meaning "body part adapted to a certain function" is attested from late 14c., from a Medieval Latin sense of Latin organum. Organist is first recorded 1590s; organ-grinder is attested from 1806.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

organ in Medicine




A differentiated part of the body that performs a specific function.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

organ in Science



A distinct part of an organism that performs one or more specialized functions. Examples of organs are the eyes, ears, lungs, and heart of an animal, and the roots, stems, and leaves of a plant.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

organ in Culture


Part of a living thing, distinct from the other parts, that is adapted for a specific function. Organs are made up of tissues and are grouped into systems, such as the digestive system.


The brain, liver, and skin are organs.
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.