noun Anatomy.
a prominent oval mass of lymphoid tissue on each side of the throat.

1595–1605; < Latin tōnsillae (plural) the tonsils

tonsillar, tonsilar, tonsillary [ton-suh-ler-ee] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tonsil (ˈtɒnsəl)
1.  Also called: palatine tonsil either of two small masses of lymphatic tissue situated one on each side of the back of the mouthRelated: amygdaline
2.  anatomy any small rounded mass of tissue, esp lymphatic tissue
Related: amygdaline
[C17: from Latin tōnsillae (pl) tonsils, of uncertain origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1600, from L. tonsillæ (plural) "tonsils," dim. of toles "goiter," which is perhaps of Gaulish origin. Tonsillitis is from 1801; tonsillectomy is from 1899, a hybrid with a Gk. ending. A correct formation all from Gk. would be amygdalectomy.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

tonsil ton·sil (tŏn'səl)

  1. A collection of lymphoid tissue.

  2. A small oral mass of lymphoid tissue, especially either of two such masses embedded in the lateral walls of the opening between the mouth and the pharynx, of uncertain function, but believed to help protect the body from respiratory infections. Also called faucial tonsil, palatine tonsil.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
tonsils   (tŏn'səlz)  Pronunciation Key 
The two oval-shaped masses of tissue at the back of the throat that lie between the mouth and the pharynx. The tonsils are thought to prevent infections of the breathing passages but often become infected themselves.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

tonsils definition

Two masses of tissue on either side of the throat. The tonsils, part of the lymphatic system, help defend the body against harmful microorganisms.

Note: Formerly, tonsils were often removed surgically in childhood, but now they are not, unless the tonsils have grown too large or are continually subject to infection.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
But he's having a lot of pain and it's not his tonsils--they're not even
  red--so it must be coming from farther down.
The tonsils are lymph nodes in the back of the mouth and top of the throat.
The doctor will look for redness and pus-filled patches on the tonsils and back
  of the throat.
Often, adenoid removal is done at the same time as a tonsillectomy, surgery to
  remove the tonsils.
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