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[pol-uh n] /ˈpɒl ən/
the fertilizing element of flowering plants, consisting of fine, powdery, yellowish grains or spores, sometimes in masses.
verb (used with object)
to pollinate.
Origin of pollen
1515-25; < New Latin, special use of Latin: fine flour, mill dust
Related forms
pollenless, adjective
pollenlike, adjective
[puh-lin-ik] /pəˈlɪn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
pollinical, adjective
unpollened, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pollen
Historical Examples
  • Inane, empty, said of an anther which produces no pollen, &c.

  • When is the pollen gathered by the bee and kneaded into the pellet-like mass?

    Our Common Insects Alpheus Spring Packard
  • She has no baskets in which to gather the pollen, no brushes, no towering plumes.

    The Children's Life of the Bee Maurice Maeterlinck
  • The flowers have therefore to devise a means for the transport of the pollen.

    The Heart of Nature Francis Younghusband
  • Thus he continues until the third segment is reached, from which he carries away a fresh load of pollen to another flower.

    My Studio Neighbors William Hamilton Gibson
  • Was there anything to show that the stigma was ready for pollen in these two cases?

  • “Nothing but that some of the pollen shall be mixed with them,” said her mother.

    Every Girl's Book George F. Butler
  • The brush of stamens, erect in the center, sheds its pollen and the anthers collapse.

    The Apple-Tree L. H. Bailey
  • In doing this they come in contact with the pollen, which, adhering to their backs, is carried off to other flowers.

    What is Darwinism? Charles Hodge
  • The stigma, if pollen suffice, should be covered with pollen.

British Dictionary definitions for pollen


a fine powdery substance produced by the anthers of seed-bearing plants, consisting of numerous fine grains containing the male gametes
Derived Forms
pollinic (pəˈlɪnɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: powder; compare Greek palē pollen


Daniel. 1813–96, New Zealand statesman, born in Ireland: prime minister of New Zealand (1876)
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 pollen

1760 as a botanical term for the fertilizing element of flowers (from Linnæus, 1751), earlier "fine flour" (1520s), from Latin pollen "mill dust; fine flour," related to polenta "peeled barley," and pulvis (genitive pulveris) "dust," from PIE root *pel- (1) "dust; flour" (cf. Greek poltos "pap, porridge," Sanskrit pálalam "ground seeds," Lithuanian pelenai, Old Church Slavonic popelu, Russian pépelŭ "ashes").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pollen in Medicine

pollen pol·len (pŏl'ən)
Microspores of seed plants carried by wind or insects prior to fertilization.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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pollen in Science
Powdery grains that contain the male reproductive cells of most plants. In gymnosperms, pollen is produced by male cones or conelike structures. In angiosperms, pollen is produced by the anthers at the end of stamens in flowers. Each pollen grain contains a generative cell, which divides into two nuclei (one of which fertilizes the egg), and a tube cell, which grows into a pollen tube to conduct the generative cell or the nuclei into the ovule. The pollen grain is the male gametophyte generation of seed-bearing plants. In gymnosperms, each pollen grain also contains two sterile cells (called prothallial cells), thought to be remnants of the vegetative tissue of the male gametophyte.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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pollen in Culture

pollen definition

The male sex cells in plants. In flowering plants, pollen is produced in thin filaments in the flower called stamens. (See fertilization and pollination.)

Note: When pollen is carried into the air by the wind, it frequently causes allergic reactions (see allergy) in humans.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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