Definition of tonsil in English:


Pronunciation /ˈtɒnsɪl//ˈtɒns(ə)l/


  • Either of two small masses of lymphoid tissue in the throat, one on each side of the root of the tongue.

    • ‘A programme of testing several thousand pathological specimens of appendixes and tonsils was started.’
    • ‘Sometimes a secondary bacterial infection of the tonsils occurs, and this is usually treated with the antibiotic penicillin.’
    • ‘The tonsils were moderately enlarged with no deviation of the uvula.’
    • ‘If the throat is narrower to start with, for example because the tonsils are enlarged, it is easier for the throat muscles to close and block the airway.’
    • ‘Doctors cannot usually tell the difference just by looking at the tonsils.’
    • ‘The tonsils and the back of the throat may look red, swollen, and dotted with whitish or yellowish specks of pus.’
    • ‘Perhaps if I do relent and have them out, I should also book in to have my tonsils and appendix removed as well, just in case.’
    • ‘The tonsils are the two masses of tissue on either side of the back of the throat.’
    • ‘Sometimes surgery is needed to remove tonsils or extra tissue from the throat.’
    • ‘This will help prevent complications such as rheumatic fever or an abscess around the tonsils.’
    • ‘This throat membrane usually covers the tonsils and is a dirty grey colour.’
    • ‘It is possible that the ‘breath holding’ episodes the child exhibited previously were in fact intermittent and momentary obstruction of the glottis by the tonsil.’
    • ‘Surgical removal of tonsils, nasal polyps or other tissue impinging on the airway also may relieve sleep apnea.’
    • ‘If the abscess is located in the distal part of the tonsil, puncture of the carotid artery can occur.’
    • ‘Enlarged adenoids or tonsils, which are at the back of the throat, may block the Eustachian tube.’
    • ‘The problem can sometimes be fixed if the tonsils are taken out, if a machine is used to help breathing at night, or if the child loses weight.’
    • ‘The major parts of the system are the bone marrow, spleen, thymus gland, lymph nodes, and the tonsils.’
    • ‘Oral cancers occur in the mouth and the back of the throat, the tonsil, tongue, lip and voice box.’
    • ‘The tonsils normally help to filter out bacteria and other microorganisms to aid the body in fighting infection.’
    • ‘Other parts of the lymphatic system are the spleen, thymus, bone marrow and tonsils.’


Late 16th century: from French tonsilles or Latin tonsillae (plural).