synapse

[sin-aps, si-naps]Physiology
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noun

a region where nerve impulses are transmitted and received, encompassing the axon terminal of a neuron that releases neurotransmitters in response to an impulse, an extremely small gap across which the neurotransmitters travel, and the adjacent membrane of an axon, dendrite, or muscle or gland cell with the appropriate receptor molecules for picking up the neurotransmitters.

verb (used without object), syn·apsed, syn·aps·ing.

Cell Biology, Physiology. to form a synapse or a synapsis.

Nearby words

  1. synaesthesia,
  2. synagogue,
  3. synalepha,
  4. synalgia,
  5. synaloepha,
  6. synapsid,
  7. synapsis,
  8. synapte,
  9. synaptic,
  10. synaptic cleft

Origin of synapse

1895–1900; back formation from synapses, plural of synapsis

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for synapse


British Dictionary definitions for synapse

synapse

noun

the point at which a nerve impulse is relayed from the terminal portion of an axon to the dendrites of an adjacent neuron
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 synapse

synapse

n.

"junction between two nerve cells," 1899, from Greek synapsis "conjunction," from synaptein "to clasp," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + haptein "to fasten." Related to apse. Introduced by English physiologist Sir Michael Foster (1836-1907) at the suggestion of English classical scholar Arthur Woollgar Verral (1851-1912).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for synapse

synapse

[sĭnăps′, sĭ-năps]

n.

The junction across which a nerve impulse passes from an axon terminal to a neuron, a muscle cell, or a gland cell.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for synapse

synapse

[sĭnăps′]

The small junction across which a nerve impulse passes from one nerve cell to another nerve cell, a muscle cell, or a gland cell. The synapse consists of the synaptic terminal, or presynaptic ending, of a sending neuron, a postsynaptic ending of the receiving cell that contains receptor sites, and the space between them (the synaptic cleft). The synaptic terminal contains neurotransmitters and cell organelles including mitochondria. An electrical impulse in the sending neuron triggers the migration of vesicles containing neurotransmitters toward the membrane of the synaptic terminal. The vesicle membrane fuses with the presynaptic membrane, and the neurotransmitters are released into the synaptic cleft and bind to receptors of the connecting cell where they excite or inhibit electrical impulses. See also neurotransmitter.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for synapse

synapse

[(sin-aps, si-naps)]

A gap between two nerve cells. Nerve signals are sent across the gap by neurotransmitters.

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.