noun, plural villi [vil-ahy] .
Anatomy, Zoology. one of the minute, wormlike processes on certain membranes, especially on the mucous membrane of the small intestine, where they serve in absorbing nutriment.
Botany. one of the long, soft, straight hairs covering the fruit, flowers, and other parts of certain plants.

1695–1705; < Latin: shaggy hair, thick nap Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
villi (ˈvɪlaɪ)
the plural of villus

villus (ˈvɪləs)
n , pl villi
1.  zoology, anatomy any of the numerous finger-like projections of the mucous membrane lining the small intestine of many vertebrates
2.  any similar membranous process, such as any of those in the mammalian placenta
3.  botany any of various hairlike outgrowths, as from the stem of a moss
[C18: from Latin: shaggy hair]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

villus vil·lus (vĭl'əs)
n. pl. vil·li (vĭl'ī)

  1. A minute projection arising from a mucous membrane, especially one of the vascular projections of the small intestine.

  2. Such a projection of the chorion that contributes to placental formation in mammals.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
villus   (vĭl'əs)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural villi (vĭl'ī)
A small projection on the surface of a mucous membrane, such as that of the small intestine.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


in anatomy any of the small, slender, vascular projections that increase the surface area of a membrane. Important villous membranes include the placenta and the mucous-membrane coating of the small intestine. The villi of the small intestine project into the intestinal cavity, greatly increasing the surface area for food absorption and adding digestive secretions. The villi number about 6,000 to 25,000 per square inch (10 to 40 per square millimetre) of tissue. They are most prevalent at the beginning of the small intestine and diminish in number toward the end of the tract.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The lining of the intestines contains areas called villi, which help absorb nutrients.
The two currents do not intermingle, being separated from each other by the delicate walls of the villi.
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