noun (usually in plural cilia /-lɪə/)
1 Biology A short microscopic hair-like vibrating structure found in large numbers on the surface of certain cells, either causing currents in the surrounding fluid, or, in some protozoans and other small organisms, providing propulsion.
More example sentences
- Some single-celled organisms called protists do in fact use cilia on their cell surface to swim through water.
- Our respiratory systems are lined with millions of tiny cilia that clean all kinds of irritants - germs, dust, mucus - out of our bodies.
- As the cilia whip around clockwise, they circulate the fluids.
early 18th century (in the sense 'eyelash'): from Latin.
Definition of cilium in:
- The US English dictionary