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[sin-aps, si-naps] /ˈsɪn æps, sɪˈnæps/ Physiology
a region where nerve impulses are transmitted and received, encompassing the axon terminal of a neuron that releases neurotransmitters in response to an impulse, an extremely small gap across which the neurotransmitters travel, and the adjacent membrane of an axon, dendrite, or muscle or gland cell with the appropriate receptor molecules for picking up the neurotransmitters.
verb (used without object), synapsed, synapsing.
Cell Biology, Physiology. to form a synapse or a synapsis.
1895-1900; back formation from synapses, plural of synapsis Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for synapse
  • Each synapse can presumably make sophisticated calculations based on messages reaching it from other neurons.
  • The junction between an axon and a dendrite is called a synapse.
  • Measures of impulsivity, but these are genes for synapse formation.
  • The neurons use a network of genes to build a complete scaffolding to support the synapse.
  • The trick, he thinks, is that this downscaling is done in proportion to the existing strength of each synapse.
  • One deals with the meaningful integration of experience at the spinal level, synapse by synapse.
  • Whatever brain synapse allows for grappling with page-long paragraphs she doesn't have it.
  • There's some synapse missing, the one that links desire and action.
  • The synapse is the gap between those nerve cells and what one's nerve cell does to another is release signaling compounds.
  • Lots of small decisions that added extra synapse circuits.
British Dictionary definitions for synapse


the point at which a nerve impulse is relayed from the terminal portion of an axon to the dendrites of an adjacent neuron
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 synapse

"junction between two nerve cells," 1899, from Greek synapsis "conjunction," from synaptein "to clasp," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + haptein "to fasten." Related to apse. Introduced by English physiologist Sir Michael Foster (1836-1907) at the suggestion of English classical scholar Arthur Woollgar Verral (1851-1912).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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synapse in Medicine

synapse syn·apse (sĭn'āps', sĭ-nāps')
The junction across which a nerve impulse passes from an axon terminal to a neuron, a muscle cell, or a gland cell.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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synapse in Science

The small junction across which a nerve impulse passes from one nerve cell to another nerve cell, a muscle cell, or a gland cell. The synapse consists of the synaptic terminal, or presynaptic ending, of a sending neuron, a postsynaptic ending of the receiving cell that contains receptor sites, and the space between them (the synaptic cleft). The synaptic terminal contains neurotransmitters and cell organelles including mitochondria. An electrical impulse in the sending neuron triggers the migration of vesicles containing neurotransmitters toward the membrane of the synaptic terminal. The vesicle membrane fuses with the presynaptic membrane, and the neurotransmitters are released into the synaptic cleft and bind to receptors of the connecting cell where they excite or inhibit electrical impulses. See also neurotransmitter.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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synapse in Culture
synapse [(sin-aps, si-naps)]

A gap between two nerve cells. Nerve signals are sent across the gap by neurotransmitters.

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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