Why was "tantrum" trending last week?


[kap-uh-ler-ee] /ˈkæp əˌlɛr i/
pertaining to or occurring in or as if in a tube of fine bore.
resembling a strand of hair; hairlike.
  1. pertaining to capillarity.
  2. of or relating to the apparent attraction or repulsion between a liquid and a solid, observed in capillarity.
Anatomy. pertaining to a capillary or capillaries.
noun, plural capillaries.
Anatomy. one of the minute blood vessels between the terminations of the arteries and the beginnings of the veins.
Also called capillary tube. a tube with a small bore.
1570-80; capill(ar) (obsolete, < Latin capillāris pertaining to hair, equivalent to capill(us) hair + -āris -ar1) + -ary
Related forms
intercapillary, adjective
noncapillary, adjective, noun, plural noncapillaries. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for capillary
  • capillary action from a split in the head of the pen allows ink to flow.
  • Adipose tissues, in general, have low capillary density and are poorly perfused.
  • When a crack occurs, the healing chemicals flow by capillary action to the crack.
  • The really exciting news, however, is that in certain materials the hydro-capillary effect can be controlled electronically.
  • capillary rise into inter-filament gaps must be overcome in addition to individual filament wetting.
  • At the water surface, where capillary waves are spreading the longitudinal waves exists on both lower, both higher wavelengths.
  • The form of the capillary net varies in the different tissues, the meshes being generally rounded or elongated.
  • The nasal cavity has extensive capillary plexuses in the mucosa and submucosa.
  • They open into the spaces, and from them are also given off small capillary branches to supply the trabecular structure.
  • In the red muscles of the rabbit dilatations occur on the transverse branches of the capillary network.
British Dictionary definitions for capillary


resembling a hair; slender
(of tubes) having a fine bore
(anatomy) of or relating to any of the delicate thin-walled blood vessels that form an interconnecting network between the arterioles and the venules
(physics) of or relating to capillarity
noun (pl) -laries
(anatomy) any of the capillary blood vessels
a fine hole or narrow passage in any substance
Word Origin
C17: from Latin capillāris, from capillus hair
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for capillary

1650s, "of or pertaining to the hair," from Latin capillaris "of hair," from capillus "hair" (of the head); perhaps related to caput "head" (but de Vaan finds this "difficult on the formal side" and "far from compelling, since capillus is a diminutive, and would mean 'little head', which hardly amounts to 'hair'"). Borrowed earlier as capillar (14c.). Meaning "taking place in capillary vessels" is from 1809. Capillary attraction attested from 1813. As a noun, "capillary blood vessel," from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
capillary in Medicine

capillary cap·il·lary (kāp'ə-lěr'ē)

  1. Of or relating to the capillaries.

  2. Relating to or resembling a hair; fine and slender.

Blood capillary.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
capillary in Science
Any of the tiny blood vessels that connect the smallest arteries (arterioles) to the smallest veins (venules). Capillaries form a network throughout the body for the exchange of oxygen, metabolic waste products, and carbon dioxide between blood and tissue cells.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
capillary in Culture
capillary [(kap-uh-ler-ee)]

A thin tube, such as a blood vessel or a straw, through which fluids flow.

Note: The interaction between the fluid and the vessel walls produces a force that can lift the fluid up into the tube, a phenomenon known as capillary action.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for capillary

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for capillary

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for capillary