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cell (sĕl)
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n.
1. A narrow confining room, as in a prison or convent.
2. A small enclosed cavity or space, such as a compartment in a honeycomb or within a plant ovary or an area bordered by veins in an insect's wing.
3. Biology The smallest structural unit of an organism that is capable of independent functioning, consisting of cytoplasm, usually one nucleus, and various other organelles, all surrounded by a semipermeable cell membrane.
4. Architecture See web.
5. The smallest organizational unit of a clandestine group or movement, such as a banned political movement or a terrorist group. A cell's leader is often the only person who knows members of the organization outside the cell.
6. Electricity
a. A single unit for electrolysis or conversion of chemical into electric energy, usually consisting of a container with electrodes and an electrolyte; a battery.Also called electrochemical cell.
b. A single unit that converts radiant energy into electric energy:a solar cell.
7. A fuel cell.
8.
a. A geographic area or zone surrounding a transmitter in a cellular telephone system.
b. A cell phone.
9. Computers A basic unit of storage in a computer memory that can hold one unit of information, such as a character or word.
10. A storm cell.
11. A small humble abode, such as a hermit's cave or hut.
12. A small religious house dependent on a larger one, such as a priory within an abbey.
13. A box or other unit on a spreadsheet or similar array at the intersection of a column and a row.
v.celled, cell·ing, cells
v.tr.
To store in a honeycomb.
v.intr.
To live in or share a prison cell.

[Middle Englishcelle, fromOld Englishcelland fromOld French, both fromLatincella, chamber; see kel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)
cell
top: plant cell
bottom: animal cell

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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