Definition of ampulla in English:


nounPlural ampullae

  • 1A roughly spherical Roman flask with two handles.

    • ‘A Roman ampulla, a bronze fibula, pieces of coarse pottery, and various bones, are among the latest ‘finds’ unearthed by him some two feet below the surface.’
    • ‘As a matter of fact, the photograph represented an ancient Ampulla, found in a necropolis near Baalbec, which is probably unique of its kind.’
    1. 1.1 A flask for sacred uses such as holding the oil for anointing the sovereign at a coronation.
      • ‘Giovanni del Chiaro provided the baptistery with a number of important and expensive liturgical objects, including a basin and two silver ampullae.’
      • ‘The ampulla was believed to contain holy oil, said to have been given by the Virgin Mary to Thomas Becket and rediscovered in time to assist Henry IV at his coronation in 1399.’
      • ‘In addition, he supplied a sceptre with cross, a sceptre with dove, an orb, a pair of spurs, a pair of armills, an ampulla, and a chalice and paten: all of which remain in the Tower of London today.’
  • 2Anatomy Zoology
    A cavity, or the dilated end of a vessel, shaped like a Roman ampulla.

    • ‘This species can sense electric cues (from the gills of small crustaceans and fish) in their environment with ampullae and use this information for prey capture.’
    • ‘The main pancreatic duct, which merged with the distal common bile duct at the ampulla, was also significantly dilated.’
    • ‘At each mating, the female receives a bipartite spermatophore consisting of a spermatophylax and a sperm-containing ampulla.’
    • ‘The ampulla or dilated intraperitoneal part of the rectum can be recognized at this level.’
    • ‘The ostium leads to the second portion of the oviduct, the ampulla, which is the duct's dilated mid-portion where fertilization usually occurs.’
    space, chamber, hollow, hole, pocket, pouch
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin, diminutive of ampora, variant of amphora (see amphora).