[too-ber-kuh l, tyoo-]
  1. a small rounded projection or excrescence, as on a bone or on the surface of the body.
  2. Pathology.
    1. a small, firm, rounded nodule or swelling.
    2. such a swelling as the characteristic lesion of tuberculosis.
  3. Botany. a tuberlike swelling or nodule.

Origin of tubercle

From the Latin word tūberculum, dating back to 1570–80. See tuber1, -cle1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of tubercle

British Dictionary definitions for tubercle


  1. any small rounded nodule or elevation, esp on the skin, on a bone, or on a plant
  2. any small rounded pathological lesion of the tissues, esp one characteristic of tuberculosis

Word Origin for tubercle

C16: from Latin tūberculum a little swelling, diminutive of tuber
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 tubercle

1570s, from Latin tuberculum "a small swelling," diminutive of tuber "lump" (see tuber).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tubercle in Medicine


  1. An anatomical nodule.tuberculum
  2. A small elevation on the surface of a tooth.
  3. A nodule or swelling, especially a mass of lymphocytes and epithelioid cells forming the characteristic granulomatous lesion of tuberculosis.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

tubercle in Science


  1. A small rounded projection, swelling, or lump, as on the roots of legumes or on bodily tissue, especially the cluster of inflammatory cells that form in the lungs in tuberculosis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.