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[kawr-teks] /ˈkɔr tɛks/
noun, plural cortices
[kawr-tuh-seez] /ˈkɔr təˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
Anatomy, Zoology.
  1. the outer region of an organ or structure, as the outer portion of the kidney.
  2. the cerebral cortex.
  1. the portion of a stem between the epidermis and the vascular tissue; bark.
  2. any outer layer, as rind.
Mycology. the surface tissue layer of a fungus or lichen, composed of massed hyphal cells.
Origin of cortex
1650-60; < Latin: bark, rind, shell, husk
Related forms
subcortex, noun, plural subcortices. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cortex
  • Whether self-awareness simply emerges from a large cortex or whether selection for it necessarily results in one is unclear.
  • Music only excites us when it makes our auditory cortex struggle to uncover its order.
  • When doctors asked her to think of playing tennis, areas of her motor cortex leapt to life.
  • Instead, they are sent to the prefrontal cortex for longer-term storage.
  • The grooves and folds in the cerebral cortex are called convolutions.
  • Whether headache is initiated by the brain stem, by the cortex or by the subcortex remains an active debate.
  • On the one hand, it's not exactly shocking that beauty can be sourced to the cortex.
  • But in the long term the ultimate goal would be to place electrodes in the motor cortex of the brain.
  • The cerebral cortex is the structure that gives the organ its convoluted surface.
  • The hippocampus does so, encoding the firing sequence in the cortex and thereby consolidating the memory.
British Dictionary definitions for cortex


noun (pl) -tices (-tɪˌsiːz)
(anatomy) the outer layer of any organ or part, such as the grey matter in the brain that covers the cerebrum (cerebral cortex) or the outer part of the kidney (renal cortex)
  1. the unspecialized tissue in plant stems and roots between the vascular bundles and the epidermis
  2. the outer layer of a part such as the bark of a stem
Derived Forms
cortical (ˈkɔːtɪkəl) adjective
cortically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: bark, outer layer
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 cortex

1650s, "outer shell, husk," from Latin cortex "bark of a tree" (see corium). Specifically of the brain, first recorded 1741.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cortex in Medicine

cortex cor·tex (kôr'těks')
n. pl. cor·tex·es or cor·ti·ces (-tĭ-sēz')

  1. The outer layer of an internal organ or body structure, as of the kidney.

  2. The cerebral cortex.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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cortex in Science
  1. The outer layer of an organ or body part, such as the cerebrum or the adrenal glands.

  2. The region of tissue lying between the epidermis (the outermost layer) and the vascular tissue in the roots and stems of plants. It is composed of collenchyma, parenchyma, and sclerenchyma. In roots the cortex transfers water and minerals from the epidermis to the vascular tissue, which distributes them to other parts of the plant. The cortex also provides structural support and stores food manufactured in the leaves. See illustration at xylem.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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cortex in Technology

An experimental slow controls project at CERN.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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