Definition of capillary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkapəˌlerē/


1 Anatomy Any of the fine branching blood vessels that form a network between the arterioles and venules.
Example sentences
  • Blood obtained from a skin puncture is a mixture of arterioles, venules and capillaries and contains interstitial and intracellular fluids.
  • Between the arteries and the veins are networks of tiny blood vessels called capillaries.
  • Immature vessels coalesce to form larger vessels and organize into capillaries, arterioles, and venules.
2 (also capillary tube) A tube that has an internal diameter of hairlike thinness.
Example sentences
  • Different diameter capillary tubes are used for thinner or thicker oils.
  • Scientists have long used ultra-fine glass tubes known as capillaries to analyze the chemical makeup of substances.
  • The packed cell volume is determined by centrifuging the specimen in capillary tubes and measuring the height of the red cell column.


Relating to capillaries or capillarity.
Example sentences
  • Alveolar wall thickening with eosinophilic materials and capillary congestion with red blood cells were evident in the mice with emphysema at 72 hours.
  • While patients with insulin-requiring diabetes are in active labor, capillary blood glucose levels should be monitored hourly.
  • One of the most colorful controversies in the first decade of the 20th century concerned how oxygen moved across the pulmonary capillary wall into the blood.


Mid 17th century: from Latin capillaris, from capillus 'hair', influenced by Old French capillaire.

  • dishevelled from Late Middle English:

    In the past, when no respectable man or woman would dream of going out without a hat, headscarf, or similar head covering, anyone seen bare-headed would be regarded as very scruffy and dishevelled. The word comes from Old French chevel ‘hair’, from Latin capillus, the source also of capillary (mid 17th century). The original sense was ‘having the hair uncovered’, then, referring to the hair itself, ‘hanging loose’, hence ‘disordered, untidy’. See unkempt

Words that rhyme with capillary

ancillary, artillery, codicillary, distillery, fibrillary, fritillary, Hilary, maxillary, pillory

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cap·il·lar·y

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