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[fil-uh-muh nt] /ˈfɪl ə mənt/
a very fine thread or threadlike structure; a fiber or fibril:
filaments of gold.
a single fibril of natural or synthetic textile fiber, of indefinite length, sometimes several miles long.
a long slender cell or series of attached cells, as in some algae and fungi.
Botany. the stalklike portion of a stamen, supporting the anther.
Ornithology. the barb of a down feather.
(in a light bulb or other incandescent lamp) the threadlike conductor, often of tungsten, in the bulb that is heated to incandescence by the passage of current.
Electronics. the heating element (sometimes also acting as a cathode) of a vacuum tube, resembling the filament in an incandescent bulb.
Astronomy. a solar prominence, as viewed within the sun's limb.
1585-95; < New Latin fīlāmentum, equivalent to Late Latin fīlā(re) to wind thread, spin (see file1) + Latin -mentum -ment
Related forms
filamented, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for filaments
  • Its integumentary filaments-long, thin structures protruding from its scaly skin.
  • If the day is warm and wet enough, the zoospores germinate, sending threadlike filaments into the leaf.
  • They cost more than traditional lights, but last longer because they don't have filaments and use less electricity.
  • More mutations occurred, and these filaments began to branch, join together.
  • One mystery is the purpose of the fine, hairlike filaments that coat the crab's arms and legs.
  • These gas loops are called solar prominences when viewed against space and solar filaments when viewed against the sun's surface.
  • They sting fish and other prey with tentacles armed with hollow, harpoonlike filaments that deliver toxic venom.
  • Choanocytes use these filaments, called flagella, to paddle water past themselves.
  • It shows erupting filaments lifting off the active solar surface and blasting enormous bubbles of magnetic plasma into space.
  • Think of this as a whole bunch of different colored vertical filaments that don't really overlap.
British Dictionary definitions for filaments


the thin wire, usually tungsten, inside a light bulb that emits light when heated to incandescence by an electric current
(electronics) a high-resistance wire or ribbon, forming the cathode in some valves
a single strand of a natural or synthetic fibre; fibril
  1. the stalk of a stamen
  2. any of the long slender chains of cells into which some algae and fungi are divided
(ornithol) the barb of a down feather
(anatomy) any slender structure or part, such as the tail of a spermatozoon; filum
  1. a long structure of relatively cool material in the solar corona
  2. a long large-scale cluster of galaxies
Derived Forms
filamentary (ˌfɪləˈmɛntərɪ; -trɪ), filamentous, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from New Latin fīlāmentum, from Medieval Latin fīlāre to spin, from Latin fīlum thread
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 filaments



1590s, from Modern Latin filamentum, from Late Latin filare "to spin, draw out in a long line," from Latin filum "thread" (see file (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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filaments in Medicine

filament fil·a·ment (fĭl'ə-mənt)
A fibril, fine fiber, or threadlike structure.

fil'a·men'tous (-měn'təs) or fil'a·men'ta·ry (-měn'tə-rē, -měn'trē) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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filaments in Science
  1. A fine or slender thread, wire, or fiber.

  2. The part of a stamen that supports the anther of a flower; the stalk of a stamen. See more at flower.

    1. A fine wire that gives off radiation when an electric current is passed through it, usually to provide light, as in an incandescent bulb, or to provide heat, as in a vacuum tube.

    2. A wire that acts as the cathode in some electron tubes when it is heated with an electric current.

  3. Any of the dark, sinuous lines visible through certain filters on the disk of the Sun. Filaments are solar prominences that are viewed against the solar surface rather than being silhouetted along the outer edges of the disk. See more at prominence.

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