Definition of capsule in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkapsjuːl/
Pronunciation: /ˈkapsjʊl/


1A small case or container, especially a round or cylindrical one: he showed us the cylinder of the gun filled with six plastic capsules
More example sentences
  • These tiny cylindrical capsules contain microchips with copper coils.
  • Male and female starlings were wild-caught, housed in the laboratory, and implanted with either empty silastic capsules or capsules containing testosterone.
  • The capsule contains the details of a safety deposit box in a Swiss bank.
1.1A small soluble case of gelatin containing a dose of medicine, swallowed whole.
Example sentences
  • One solution is to teach children to swallow tablets or capsules whole as early as possible.
  • The number of capsules that you take depends on the strength of the medicine in the capsule and the dose prescribed by your doctor.
  • If you are taking the sustained-release capsule: swallow the capsule whole.
pill, tablet, lozenge, pastille, pilule, drop, caplet, pellet, bolus, troche
informal tab
1.2 short for space capsule.
2 Anatomy A tough sheath or membrane that encloses an organ or other structure in the body, such as a kidney or a synovial joint.
Example sentences
  • The prostate gland is enclosed in a prostatic capsule and surrounded by extraperitoneal connective tissue.
  • Primary retroperitoneal tumors may attach to the renal capsule or invade the kidney and, therefore, appear clinically as a primary renal tumor.
  • These calcifications could also be seen in the joint capsules, in ligaments and tendons.
2.1 Biology A gelatinous layer forming the outer surface of some bacterial cells.
Example sentences
  • These derivitized proteins do many of the same jobs which are performed by the cell wall and capsule in bacteria.
  • In certain parasitic bacteria, N-acetylneuraminate lyase also plays a role in the synthesis of a sialic acid polymer component of capsules that help these bacteria evade host defenses.
  • After his summer at Woods Hole, Rollin joined Avery and Goebel in their work on the immunochemistry of the polysaccharide capsules of pneumonia bacteria.
3The foil or plastic covering the cork of a wine bottle.
Example sentences
  • it is an alternative name for the capsule which covers the cork and neck of a wine bottle.
  • You can buy foil capsules for the top of the bottle and make or buy your own labels, attaching them with a glue stick.
  • Snip off the kitsch plastic bull attached to the capsule and concentrate instead on the tasty, plum and cherry-packed red, made from the garnacha and cariñena grapes, within.
cover, seal, cap, top
4 Botany A dry fruit that releases its seeds by bursting open when ripe, such as a pea pod.
Example sentences
  • The leaves of the great poplar he climbed in gleamed as though polished; bead-like fruit dangled, inviting young hands to burst the green capsules open and release the fluffy seed.
  • A developmental process termed dehiscence, in which the fruit ruptures in a predetermined fashion, effects the release of seeds from a dry capsule or other fruit form.
  • The fruits are rounded, leathery 1-to 2-inch capsules containing one to three large poisonous seeds.
seed case, pod, shell, husk, hull, case, sheath
technical pericarp, exocarp, legume, integument
5 Botany The spore-producing structure of mosses and liverworts, typically borne on a stalk.
Example sentences
  • For example, in mosses the sporophyte is a capsule atop a slender stalk that grows out of the top of the gametophyte.
  • Small distinguished M. brittonii from the southeastern United States by its larger leaves, flowers, and capsules.
  • At this stage the capsules contained either dividing sporocytes or just formed tetrads in both species.
6 [as modifier] (Of a piece of writing) shortened but retaining the essence of the original; condensed: a capsule review of the movie
More example sentences
  • Here I'll write some capsule reviews of these books.
  • To help make your decision-making a little easier, here are 25 capsule reviews that separate the essential cinema from the pretenders to the throne.
  • I thought the City Paper capsule review was odd, though, in that it slammed the movie for its ‘liberal’ cliches.
6.1(Of a collection of clothing) consisting of a relatively small set of key items: a capsule wardrobe
More example sentences
  • Inspiration draws from urban warriors re-invented into the subversive capsule collection.
  • PVC, hot air balloon fabrics and nylon were all featured in this neat capsule collection of black and white womenswear.
  • White vinyl sleep coats, goggles and plastic oversized trousers all feature strongly in this capsule menswear collection.



Pronunciation: /ˈkapsjuːlə/
Example sentences
  • For yuccas, Addicott notes that the baccate (fleshy-fruited) species typically lose more seeds to yucca moth larvae than do the dry-fruited capsular yuccas.
  • Different serogroups are distinguished by the composition and structure of their capsular polysaccharides and because the virulence is related to them, they are target for vaccine development.
  • Both the strains employed in the present study were of capsule type 2, which is the most common capsular type isolated from patients with pneumonia, urinary tract infections or bacteraemia 21.


Example sentences
  • Cryptococcal rhinitis was diagnosed on finding budding capsulate yeasts in samples of mucopurulent nasal discharge.
  • Immunoproteomics, a powerful tool for studying antigens at the proteomic level, allowed a comparative investigation of the immunogenicity of capsulate and non-capsulate strains of L. garvieae for vaccine development.
  • Capsulate anaerobes were isolated more frequently from the blood, spleen, liver, and kidneys of infected animals than were non-capsulate organisms.


Late Middle English (in the general sense 'small container'): via French from Latin capsula, diminutive of capsa (see case2).

  • case from Middle English:

    Case ‘an instance’ is something that happens or befalls, coming via French from Latin casus ‘a fall’, also the source of casual (Late Middle English). The case meaning ‘container’ is from Old French casse, the modern forms of which is caisse ‘trunk, chest’, based on Latin capsa, related to capere ‘to hold’ ( see capable). Latin capsa is also the base of late Middle English capsule, a general term at first for ‘a small container’, and cash (late 16th century) originally meaning ‘money-box’. The same base gave rise to late Middle English casement, which was first recorded as an architectural term for a hollow moulding.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cap|sule

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