plural noun, singular cilium [sil-ee-uhm] .
Biology. minute hairlike organelles, identical in structure to flagella, that line the surfaces of certain cells and beat in rhythmic waves, providing locomotion to ciliate protozoans and moving liquids along internal epithelial tissue in animals. See diag. under paramecium.
Anatomy. the eyelashes.

1705–15; Neo-Latin, plural of cilium eyelash, Latin: upper eyelid, perhaps a back formation from supercilium eyebrow; see supercilium Unabridged


[sil-ee-uhm] .
singular of cilia.

< Latin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cilia (ˈsɪlɪə)
the plural of cilium

cilium (ˈsɪlɪəm)
n , pl cilia
1.  any of the short thread-like projections on the surface of a cell, organism, etc, whose rhythmic beating causes movement of the organism or of the surrounding fluid
2.  the technical name for eyelash
[C18: New Latin, from Latin: (lower) eyelid, eyelash]

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

1715, from L. cilia, pl. of cilium "eyelid, eyelash." It sometimes is pluralized in English, which is an error.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

cilium cil·i·um (sĭl'ē-əm)
n. pl. cil·i·a (-ē-ə)

  1. See eyelash.

  2. A microscopic hairlike process extending from the surface of a cell or unicellular organism, capable of rhythmical motion, and acting with other such structures to cause the movement of the cell or of the surrounding medium.

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
cilium   (sĭl'ē-əm)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural cilia
A tiny hairlike projection on the surface of some cells and microscopic organisms, especially protozoans. Cilia are capable of whipping motions and are used by some microorganisms, such as paramecia, for movement. Cilia lining the human respiratory tract act to remove foreign matter from air before it reaches the lungs.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The cilia are used for a variety of activities, including swimming and feeding.
These were wildly outsize compared with the body, and covered with fine sensory
  cilia that waved independently.
Cilia are the tiny, hairlike structures that move digested food down the
The rainbow glow on the jellyfish comes from light reflecting off the
  creature's cilia.
Images for cilia
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