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[kohn] /koʊn/
  1. a solid whose surface is generated by a line passing through a fixed point and a fixed plane curve not containing the point, consisting of two equal sections joined at a vertex.
  2. a plane surface resembling the cross section of a solid cone.
anything shaped like a cone:
sawdust piled up in a great cone; the cone of a volcano.
  1. the more or less conical multiple fruit of the pine, fir, etc., consisting of overlapping or valvate scales bearing naked ovules or seeds; a strobile.
  2. a similar fruit, as in cycads or club mosses.
Anatomy. one of the cone-shaped cells in the retina of the eye, sensitive to color and intensity of light.
Compare rod (def 17).
one of a series of cone-shaped markers placed along a road, as around an area of highway construction, especially to exclude or divert motor vehicles.
(in a taper thread screw or bevel gear) an imaginary cone or frustum of a cone concentric to the axis and defining the pitch surface or one of the extremities of the threads or teeth.
Ceramics. pyrometric cone.
verb (used with object), coned, coning.
to shape like a cone or a segment of a cone.
Origin of cone
1480-90; < Latin cōnus < Greek kônos pine-cone, cone-shaped figure; akin to hone1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cones
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The proper taper for both these cones is the same as that used in stopcocks of similar size.

  • The lavas and ashes which form these cones are mostly andesitic.

  • Leaves are one-half or one and a half inches long; cones one-half or three-quarter inches, and bright chestnut brown at maturity.

    American Forest Trees Henry H. Gibson
  • cones varying from yellow-ochre to deep red-orange in color.

    The Genus Pinus George Russell Shaw
  • Longitudinally and horizontally, from apex to apex of the cones, was a steel deck dividing the vessel into two equal parts.

    A. D. 2000 Alvarado M. Fuller
  • The two species are alike in their leaves but distinct in their cones and seeds.

    The Genus Pinus George Russell Shaw
  • Similarly, as the cones of a species of pine-tree had the shape of teeth, it followed that they would ease the toothache.

British Dictionary definitions for cones


  1. a geometric solid consisting of a plane base bounded by a closed curve, often a circle or an ellipse, every point of which is joined to a fixed point, the vertex, lying outside the plane of the base. A right circular cone has a vertex perpendicularly above or below the centre of a circular base. Volume of a cone: 1/3πr²h, where r is the radius of the base and h is the height of the cone
  2. a geometric surface formed by a line rotating about the vertex and connecting the peripheries of two closed plane bases, usually circular or elliptical, above and below the vertex See also conic section
anything that tapers from a circular section to a point, such as a wafer shell used to contain ice cream
  1. the reproductive body of conifers and related plants, made up of overlapping scales, esp the mature female cone, whose scales each bear a seed
  2. a similar structure in horsetails, club mosses, etc Technical name strobilus
a small cone-shaped bollard used as a temporary traffic marker on roads
Also called retinal cone. any one of the cone-shaped cells in the retina of the eye, sensitive to colour and bright light
(transitive) to shape like a cone or part of a cone
Word Origin
C16: from Latin cōnus, from Greek kōnus pine cone, geometrical cone
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 cones



1560s, from Middle French cone (16c.) or directly from Latin conus "a cone, peak of a helmet," from Greek konos "cone, spinning top, pine cone," perhaps from PIE root *ko- "to sharpen" (cf. Sanskrit sanah "whetstone," Latin catus "sharp," Old English han "stone").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cones in Medicine

cone (kōn)

  1. A solid body having a circle for its base and sides inclined so as to meet at a point above the base.

  2. See cone cell.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cones in Science

  1. A three-dimensional surface or solid object in which the base is a circle and upper surface narrows to form a point. The surface of a cone is formed mathematically by moving a line that passes through a fixed point (the vertex) along a circle.

  2. A rounded or elongated reproductive structure that consists of sporophylls or scales arranged spirally or in an overlapping fashion along a central stem, as in conifers and cycads. For example, the familiar woody pinecone is actually the female cone, made up of ovule-bearing scales. The smaller male cones of the pine consist of thin overlapping microsporophylls. These produce pollen that is carried by the wind to fertilize ovules in the female cones. When the seeds in the female cones mature, the cones of many pine species expand to release them. In some pine species, cones release seeds only in response to the presence of fire. See also strobilus.

  3. One of the cone-shaped cells in the retina of the eye of many vertebrate animals. Cones are extremely sensitive to light and can distinguish among different wavelengths. Cones are responsible for vision during daylight and for the ability to see colors. Compare rod.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for cones


Related Terms

give cone

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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