Definition of cylinder in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsɪlɪndə/


1A solid geometrical figure with straight parallel sides and a circular or oval cross section.
Example sentences
  • Narnia uses stencil shadows generated from implicit geometry representations such as cylinders and ellipsoids, and also extruded polygons.
  • He goes on to consider solid geometry giving results on prisms, cylinders, and spheres.
  • Simple geometrical arrangements such as an ellipsoid or a cylinder are often used to gauge the shape of particles such as micelles and proteins.
1.1A solid or hollow body, object, or part having the shape of a cylinder.
Example sentences
  • Form the marzipan into a cylinder the same length as the stollen dough.
  • The cell body is actually a cylinder capped at both ends by hemispheres and the radius of the flagellum helix is smaller than that of the cell body.
  • Many materials scientists predict that the tiny, hollow cylinders of carbon atoms known as carbon nanotubes will eventually lead to a new generation of supersmall transistors.
2A piston chamber in a steam or internal combustion engine.
Example sentences
  • Think of a cylinder and a piston in an old steam engine.
  • When a cylinder fires, the piston rod is at an angle and can immediately turn the crankshaft via the cam at the end of the pivoting arm.
  • With both valves closed following combustion, the pistons in those cylinders come up and compress the exhaust gases instead of pumping them out.
3A cylinder-shaped container holding liquefied gas under pressure.
Example sentences
  • The fuel cell unit with a power output of 200 kW and the pressurized gas cylinders containing compressed hydrogen are accommodated on the roof.
  • Residents from around 200 houses in Colne had to leave their properties at 8pm after a fire at a block of garages containing cylinders of highly explosive gas on Tuesday night.
  • Residents were forced to evacuate their Eastwood homes after a field fire swept through garden sheds containing potentially explosive gas cylinders.
4A rotating metal roller in a printing press.
5 Archaeology A cylinder seal.


Late 16th century: from Latin cylindrus, from Greek kulindros 'roller', from kulindein 'to roll'.

  • The shape and movement of a cylinder are captured in the word's origin. Cylinder comes via Latin from Greek kulindros ‘roller’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cy¦lin|der

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