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[ri-sep-ter] /rɪˈsɛp tər/
Physiology. an end organ or a group of end organs of sensory or afferent neurons, specialized to be sensitive to stimulating agents, as touch or heat.
Cell Biology. any of various specific protein molecules in surface membranes of cells and organelles to which complementary molecules, as hormones, neurotransmitters, antigens, or antibodies, may become bound.
the panlike base of a stall shower.
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English receptour < Old French < Latin receptor. See reception, -tor Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for receptors
  • Caffeine blocks the brain's adenosine receptors, countering the chemical's dulling effects.
  • We think brain has all the receptors for each part of the body.
  • Within the brain, adrenaline and noradrenaline can activate structures on the surface of nerve cells called adrenergic receptors.
  • They have sensitive touch receptors, however, and an acute sense of smell.
  • Well, there are more than four types of taste receptors, so it can't be that.
  • It impedes the capacity of certain synaptic receptors to reabsorb a certain neurotransmitter, norepinephrine.
  • Millions of receptors in the nose's smelling organ aren't scattered at random, a new study says.
  • Scientists know there are particular gene receptors that cause dark colors in animals as diverse as birds, fish, and rabbits.
  • When light hits the panel, it is diffused to the edges, which are covered with silicon solar receptors.
  • Platypus bills are complex sensory organs loaded with electrical receptors.
British Dictionary definitions for receptors


(physiol) a sensory nerve ending that changes specific stimuli into nerve impulses
any of various devices that receive information, signals, etc
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 receptors



mid-15c., from Old French receptour or directly from Latin receptor, agent noun from recipere (see receive). Medical use from 1900.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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receptors in Medicine

receptor re·cep·tor (rĭ-sěp'tər)

  1. A specialized cell or group of nerve endings that responds to sensory stimuli.

  2. A molecular structure or site on the surface or interior of a cell that binds with substances such as hormones, antigens, drugs, or neurotransmitters.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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receptors in Science
  1. A nerve ending or other structure in the body, such as a photoreceptor, specialized to sense or receive stimuli. Skin receptors respond to stimuli such as touch and pressure and signal the brain by activating portions of the nervous system. Receptors in the nose detect the presence of certain chemicals, leading to the perception of odor.

  2. A structure or site, found on the surface of a cell or within a cell, that can bind to a hormone, antigen, or other chemical substance and thereby begin a change in the cell. For example, when a mast cell within the body encounters an allergen, specialized receptors on the mast cell bind to the allergen, resulting in the release of histamine by the mast cell. The histamine then binds to histamine receptors in other cells of the body, which initiate the response known as inflammation as well as other responses. In this way, the symptoms of an allergic reaction are produced. Antihistamine drugs work by preventing the binding of histamine to histamine receptors.

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