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[fluh-jel-uh] /fləˈdʒɛl ə/
a plural of flagellum.


[fluh-jel-uh m] /fləˈdʒɛl əm/
noun, plural flagella
[fluh-jel-uh] /fləˈdʒɛl ə/ (Show IPA),
Biology. a long, lashlike appendage serving as an organ of locomotion in protozoa, sperm cells, etc.
Botany. a runner.
Also called clavola. Entomology. (in an antenna) the whiplike portion above the basal joints.
a whip or lash.
Origin of flagellum
1800-10; < Latin: whip, lash, diminutive of flagrum a whip, scourge Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for flagella
  • Intelligent design mavens once cited flagella as evidence of their theory.
  • Charged ions flow across the membrane, which makes the cell's flagella move.
  • Choanocytes use these filaments, called flagella, to paddle water past themselves.
  • Both upper and lower surfaces bear flagella that the creature uses to swim around.
  • And they have tiny flagella to help them move from source to source, cleaning up toxics as they go.
  • Bacteria may have cell walls on the surface of their cell membranes, and may have evolved cilia or flagella for locomotion.
  • flagella usually occur one per organism whereas cilia are present as many, many per cell.
British Dictionary definitions for flagella


noun (pl) -la (-lə), -lums
(biology) a long whiplike outgrowth from a cell that acts as an organ of locomotion: occurs in some protozoans, gametes, spores, etc
(botany) a long thin supple shoot or runner
(zoology) the terminal whiplike part of an arthropod's appendage, esp of the antenna of many insects
Derived Forms
flagellar, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Latin: a little whip, from flagrum a whip, lash
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 flagella



1852, in reference to microbes, from Latin flagellum "whip, scourge," diminutive of flagrum "whip," from PIE root *bhlag- "to strike."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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flagella in Medicine

flagellum fla·gel·lum (flə-jěl'əm)
n. pl. fla·gel·la (-jěl'ə)
A threadlike appendage, especially a whiplike extension of certain cells or organisms that functions as an organ of locomotion.

fla·gel'lar (-jěl'ər) 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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flagella in Science
Plural flagella
A slender whiplike part extending from some single-celled organisms, such as the dinoflagellates, that moves rapidly back and forth to impart movement to the organism.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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