1 [sel]
a small room, as in a convent or prison.
any of various small compartments or bounded areas forming part of a whole.
a small group acting as a unit within a larger organization: a local cell of the Communist party.
Biology. a usually microscopic structure containing nuclear and cytoplasmic material enclosed by a semipermeable membrane and, in plants, a cell wall; the basic structural unit of all organisms.
Entomology. one of the areas into which the wing of an insect is divided by the veins.
Botany, locule.
Also called battery, electric cell, electrochemical cell, galvanic cell, voltaic cell. a device that generates electrical energy from chemical energy, usually consisting of two different conducting substances placed in an electrolyte. Compare dry cell.
Also called electrolytic cell. Physical Chemistry. a device for producing electrolysis, consisting essentially of the electrolyte, its container, and the electrodes.
Aeronautics. the gas container of a balloon.
Ecclesiastical. a monastery or nunnery, usually small, dependent on a larger religious house.
Telecommunications. See under cellular phone.
verb (used without object)
to live in a cell: The two prisoners had celled together for three years.

before 1150; 1665–75 for def 4; Middle English celle < Old French celle < Medieval Latin cella monastic cell, Latin: room (see cella); Old English cell < Medieval Latin, as above; see cella

cell-like, adjective
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World English Dictionary
cell1 (sɛl)
1.  a small simple room, as in a prison, convent, monastery, or asylum; cubicle
2.  any small compartment: the cells of a honeycomb
3.  biology the basic structural and functional unit of living organisms. It consists of a nucleus, containing the genetic material, surrounded by the cytoplasm in which are mitochondria, lysosomes, ribosomes, and other organelles. All cells are bounded by a cell membrane; plant cells have an outer cell wall in addition
4.  biology any small cavity or area, such as the cavity containing pollen in an anther
5.  primary cell secondary cell dry cell wet cell See also fuel cell a device for converting chemical energy into electrical energy, usually consisting of a container with two electrodes immersed in an electrolyte
6.  short for electrolytic cell
7.  a small religious house dependent upon a larger one
8.  a small group of persons operating as a nucleus of a larger political, religious, or other organization: Communist cell
9.  maths a small unit of volume in a mathematical coordinate system
10.  zoology one of the areas on an insect wing bounded by veins
11.  the geographical area served by an individual transmitter in a cellular radio network
[C12: from Medieval Latin cella monk's cell, from Latin: room, storeroom; related to Latin cēlāre to hide]

cell2 (sɛl)
a variant spelling of cel

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Word Origin & History

c.1131, "small room," from L. cella "small room, hut," related to L. celare "to hide, conceal," from PIE base *kel- "conceal" (cf. Skt. cala "hut, house, hall;" Gk. kalia "hut, nest," kalyptein "to cover," koleon "sheath," kelyphos "shell, husk;" L. cella "store room," clam "secret;" O.Ir. cuile "cellar,"
celim "hide," M.Ir. cul "defense, shelter;" Goth. hulistr "covering," O.E. heolstor "lurking-hole, cave, covering," Goth. huljan "cover over," hulundi "hole," hilms "helmet," halja "hell," O.E. hol "cave," holu "husk, pod"). Earliest sense is for monastic rooms, then prison rooms (1722). Used in biology 17c., but not in modern sense until 1845. Meaning "small group of people working within a larger organization" is from 1925. Cell body is from 1878; cell division from 1882; cell membrane from 1870; cell wall from c.1848.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

cell (sěl)

  1. The smallest structural unit of an organism that is capable of independent functioning, consisting of one or more nuclei, cytoplasm, and various organelles, all surrounded by a semipermeable cell membrane.

  2. A small enclosed cavity or space.

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
cell  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (sěl)  Pronunciation Key 

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  1. The basic unit of living matter in all organisms, consisting of protoplasm enclosed within a cell membrane. All cells except bacterial cells have a distinct nucleus that contains the cell's DNA as well as other structures (called organelles) that include mitochondria, the endoplasmic reticulum, and vacuoles. The main source of energy for all of a cell's biological processes is ATP. See more at eukaryote, prokaryote.

  2. Any of various devices, or units within such devices, that are capable of converting some form of energy into electricity. Cells contain two electrodes and an electrolyte. See more at electrolytic cell, solar cell, voltaic cell.

cellular adjective
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Cultural Dictionary

cell definition

A region of the atmosphere in which air tends to circulate without flowing outward.

cell definition

The basic unit of all living things except viruses. In advanced organisms, cells consist of a nucleus (which contains genetic material), cytoplasm, and organelles, all of which are surrounded by a cell membrane.

Note: Groups of cells with similar structure and function form tissues.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. cellular

  2. celluloid

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
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