Definition of cylinder in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsiləndər/


1A solid geometric 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.
1.2A 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.
1.3A cylindrical container for 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.
1.5 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

Syllabification: cyl·in·der

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