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[kok-lee-uh, koh-klee-uh] /ˈkɒk li ə, ˈkoʊ kli ə/
noun, plural cochleae
[kok-lee-ee, -lee-ahy, koh-klee-ee, ‐klee-ahy] /ˈkɒk liˌi, -liˌaɪ, ˈkoʊ kliˌi, ‐kliˌaɪ/ (Show IPA),
cochleas. Anatomy
a spiral-shaped cavity forming a division of the internal ear in humans and in most other mammals.
Origin of cochlea
1530-40; < Latin < Greek kochlíās snail (with spiral shell), screw, probably akin to kónchē conch
Related forms
cochlear, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cochlea
  • Inside the cochlea, tiny hair cells convert the pulse into an electrical signal to the brain.
  • As the stapes bone rocks back and forth, it pushes against a fluid-filled structure called the cochlea in the inner ear.
  • We hear when the cochlea, in the inner ear, stimulates the auditory nerve.
  • Bone-conducted sound reaches the cochlea directly through the tissues of the head.
  • The cochlea in the ear converts sound waves to electrical impulses that the brain processes as sound.
  • The general transverse direction of the fibers inclines from the radius of the cochlea toward the apex.
  • Surgeons drill a hole in the skull, embed a sound receiver, and weave an electrode array into the cochlea.
  • The trial-and-error paid off in spades, yielding a setup that's cochlea-opening ear candy.
  • They don't care for public discussions about cochlea implants.
  • The cells inside the cochlea that capture sound are fittingly called hair cells because they are tufted with microscopic cowlicks.
British Dictionary definitions for cochlea


noun (pl) -leae (-lɪˌiː)
the spiral tube, shaped like a snail's shell, that forms part of the internal ear, converting sound vibrations into nerve impulses
Derived Forms
cochlear, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: snail, spiral, from Greek kokhlias; probably related to Greek konkhēconch
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 cochlea

"spiral cavity of the inner ear," 1680s, from Latin cochlea "snail shell," from Greek kokhlias "snail, screw," etc., from kokhlos "spiral shell," perhaps related to konkhos "mussel, conch."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cochlea in Medicine

cochlea coch·le·a (kŏk'lē-ə, kō'klē-ə)
n. pl. coch·le·as or coch·le·ae (-lē-ē')
A spiral-shaped cavity in the petrous portion of the temporal bone of the inner ear, containing the nerve endings essential for hearing and forming one of the divisions of the labyrinth.

coch'le·ar (-ər)
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cochlea in Science
Plural cochleae (kŏk'lē-ē', -lē-ī') or cochleas
A spiral-shaped cavity of the inner ear and the main organ of hearing. The cochlea contains the nerve endings that transmit sound vibrations from the middle ear to the auditory nerve.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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