n. pl. cil·i·a (-ē-ə)
1. A microscopic hairlike process extending from the surface of a cell or unicellular organism. Capable of rhythmical motion, it acts in unison with other such structures to bring about the movement of the cell or of the surrounding medium.
2. An eyelash.
3. Botany One of the hairs along the margin or edge of a structure, such as a leaf, usually forming a fringe.
[Latin, eyelid; see kel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus