Definition of cell in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /sel/


1A small room in which a prisoner is locked up or in which a monk or nun sleeps.
Example sentences
  • So what that means is that he's locked up at night in a prison cell on his own, so that's solitary confinement.
  • The change of status would also mean that Tommy has to be transferred from a detention cell to a prison room, which he has to share with other convicts.
  • At 2pm on Tuesday last all 190 prisoners were locked in their cells as prison officers staged a one-hour walk-out.
room, cubicle, chamber;
dungeon, oubliette, lockup
1.1 historical A small monastery or nunnery dependent on a larger one.
Example sentences
  • Avebury subsequently attracted a monastic cell, and suffered attempts to destroy its standing stones.
  • Late in the same century the site became a dependent cell of the Durham Benedictines.
2 Biology The smallest structural and functional unit of an organism, typically microscopic and consisting of cytoplasm and a nucleus enclosed in a membrane. Microscopic organisms typically consist of a single cell, which is either eukaryotic or prokaryotic.
Example sentences
  • When this occurs, the cytoplasm from the two cells fuses, but the nuclei remain separate and distinct.
  • The scientists also produced a continuously growing line of cultured embryonic germ cells.
  • Even mammals have nucleated red blood cells in their bone marrow.
2.1An enclosed cavity in an organism.
Example sentences
  • The plaque deposits did not form cell casts or polyhedra and did not penetrate into the cell cavities, but were an external deposit only.
2.2A small compartment in a larger structure such as a honeycomb.
Example sentences
  • Then there's the honeycomb shades, so called because in profile they look like cells of a honeycomb strung together.
  • Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax.
  • The interior of a cell contains structures called organelles that can be compared to the organs in a body.
3A small group forming a nucleus of political activity, typically a secret, subversive one: the weapons may be used to arm terrorist cells
More example sentences
  • Finally, there is a claim it was less a social club than a political cell.
  • It is an open secret now that the ISI has a political cell.
  • The extortion then funds the further activities of the terror cell.
unit, faction, arm, section, ring, coterie, group
4The local area covered by one of the short-range transmitters in a cellular telephone system.
Example sentences
  • The service operates in local areas known as cells.
  • The total area within these cells, determines the coverage of a network service provider.
  • Mobiles located in areas of other cells and operating at the same frequency experience the effect of the tuning signal as an interference.
4.1North American short for cellular phone. I’ll just call him on his cell
More example sentences
  • However, this time they would be used to test the Gb stack by simulating calls via virtual mobiles, cells and base stations.
  • It lets you make and receive cell calls over a cordless phone and share that handset with a landline.
  • At the moment, mobile operators are almost all relying on cell ID as the means to automatically locate users.
5A device containing electrodes immersed in an electrolyte, used for current-generation or electrolysis.
Example sentences
  • This is said to be important when welding heat-sensitive parts such as miniature battery cells or sensitive electronic devices.
  • In addition to electrical conduction, the cells are polarized by the force of applied voltage.
  • A few years ago, the companies involved in the voltage race tried to get more cells in NiCad battery packs to power bigger tools.
5.1A unit in a device for converting chemical or solar energy into electricity.
Example sentences
  • Chemical reactions inside the cell strip electrons from the hydrogen atoms to produce a voltage that can power a circuit.
  • Although Scotland has the brains to develop them, solar energy and hydrogen cells are all but ignored.
  • Most designs use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity.



[in combination]: a single-celled organism


Pronunciation: /-ˌlīk/
Example sentences
  • Tiny, cell-like structures were built to accommodate the women, along with a new chapel.
  • Platelets are tiny cell-like disks that collect and form blood clots at the site of an injury.
  • The ‘zone’ also describes the cell-like structure of mobile phone networks themselves, explored very effectively in the work of Dunne & Raby at the RCA.


Old English, from Old French celle or Latin cella 'storeroom or chamber'.

  • Cell goes back to Latin cella ‘storeroom, chamber’, source also of cellar (Middle English); in late Latin cella also denoted ‘a monk's or hermit's cell’. See also salt

Words that rhyme with cell

Adele, Aix-la-Chapelle, aquarelle, artel, au naturel, bagatelle, béchamel, befell, bell, belle, boatel, Brunel, Cadell, carousel, cartel, Chanel, chanterelle, clientele, Clonmel, compel, Cornell, crime passionnel, dell, demoiselle, dispel, dwell, el, ell, Estelle, excel, expel, farewell, fell, Fidel, fontanelle, foretell, Gabrielle, gazelle, gel, Giselle, hell, hotel, impel, knell, lapel, mademoiselle, maître d'hôtel, Manuel, marcel, matériel, mesdemoiselles, Michel, Michelle, Miguel, misspell, morel, moschatel, Moselle, motel, muscatel, nacelle, Nell, Nobel, Noel, organelle, outsell, Parnell, pell-mell, personnel, propel, quell, quenelle, rappel, Raquel, Ravel, rebel, repel, Rochelle, Sahel, sardelle, sell, shell, show-and-tell, smell, Snell, spell, spinel, swell, tell, undersell, vielle, villanelle, well, yell

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cell

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.