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[sel-yuh-lohs] /ˈsɛl yəˌloʊs/
an inert carbohydrate, (C 6 H 10 O 5) n, the chief constituent of the cell walls of plants and of wood, cotton, hemp, paper, etc.
1745-55; < New Latin cellul(a) live cell (see cellular) + -ose2
Related forms
[sel-yuh-los-i-tee] /ˌsɛl yəˈlɒs ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
semicellulose, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cellulose
  • Bioplastics manufacturers also are researching the possibility of using cellulose as a feedstock.
  • They wreak environmental havoc and people can turn to reusable bags or cellulose bags.
  • Making cellulose into sugar is technically possible, and many firms are working on that possibility.
  • Along with cellulose and hemicellulose, these feedstocks all contain a substance called lignin.
  • cellulose is a major component of wood, giving that material its signature strength.
  • Specialized cells in the capsules are filled with a cellulose layer that can absorb large amounts of water.
  • But getting the sugar out of the cellulose is complicated.
  • cellulose is a polymer whose monomers are glucose molecules.
  • In the food industry, cellulose is used as a filler.
  • As books make the leap from cellulose and ink to electronic pages, some editors worry that too much is being lost in translation.
British Dictionary definitions for cellulose


/ˈsɛljʊˌləʊz; -ˌləʊs/
a polysaccharide consisting of long unbranched chains of linked glucose units: the main constituent of plant cell walls and used in making paper, rayon, and film
Derived Forms
cellulosic, adjective, noun
Word Origin
C18: from French cellule cell (see cellule) + -ose²
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
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Word Origin and History for cellulose

1840, from French cellulose, coined c.1835 by French chemist Anselme Payen (1795-1871) and confirmed 1839, from noun use of adjective cellulose "consisting of cells," 18c., from Latin cellula (see cellulite) + -ose (see -ose (2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cellulose in Medicine

cellulose cel·lu·lose (sěl'yə-lōs', -lōz')
A complex carbohydrate that is composed of glucose units, forms the main constituent of the cell wall in most plants, and is important in the manufacture of numerous products, such as pharmaceuticals.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cellulose in Science
  1. A carbohydrate that is a polymer composed of glucose units and that is the main component of the cell walls of most plants. It is insoluble in water and is used to make paper, cellophane, textiles, explosives, and other products.

  2. See cellulose acetate.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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cellulose in Culture
cellulose [(sel-yuh-lohs)]

A stringy, fibrous substance that forms the main material in the cell walls of plants. Cellulose is an organic molecule, composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

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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