Definition of cell in US English:

cell

noun

  • 1A small room in which a prisoner is locked up or in which a monk or nun sleeps.

    • ‘He was one of 10 convicted prisoners who escaped from the prison on June 8 after holding up prison warders at gunpoint and locking them in a cell.’
    • ‘Copying the works of others protects the solitude of the monastic cell from more intrusive forms of ministry.’
    • ‘The change of status would also mean that Tommy has to be transferred from a detention cell to a prison room, which he has to share with other convicts.’
    • ‘Rehabilitation had been neglected, Owers reported, with inmates locked in cells for 23 hours a day.’
    • ‘Most prisoners share their cells with one other inmate.’
    • ‘Wilders has six body guards and has slept in a prison cell to protect himself against possible attacks.’
    • ‘Since the accommodation for visitors on Mount Athos is more than basic, we had to share one and the same cell in the monastery of Philotheu.’
    • ‘Prison cells, hotel rooms, psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes and hospices are exempt from the ban.’
    • ‘As a result the Governor ordered a search of the prisoners and their cells to be carried out on Monday.’
    • ‘Former inmates lead you through prison cells and tell you powerful stories about the routines and punishments they endured during their captivity.’
    • ‘Where will the Government put the inmates when all the police cells, court cells, and prisons are full?’
    • ‘He was a man who delighted in escaping from the business of life into his scriptoriolum - a small library attached to his monastic cell.’
    • ‘Since 1980, nearly 300 indigenous people have died in custody in prison cells or police lockups.’
    • ‘There were four regular prison cells, one padded cell and two used for solitary confinement.’
    • ‘The monks' cells and rooms were carved inside the soft white limestone cliff.’
    • ‘The security and observation regime is quite different, prisoners often sharing cells in conditions of close confinement.’
    • ‘He was said to have been playing cards with a prison officer outside his cell when the prisoner came up and punched him.’
    • ‘At 2pm on Tuesday last all 190 prisoners were locked in their cells as prison officers staged a one-hour walk-out.’
    • ‘The offenders have designed and painted artworks throughout the burgled room and in the prison cell.’
    • ‘So what that means is that he's locked up at night in a prison cell on his own, so that's solitary confinement.’
    dungeon, oubliette, lock-up, prison
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    1. 1.1historical A small monastery or nunnery dependent on a larger one.
      • ‘Late in the same century the site became a dependent cell of the Durham Benedictines.’
      • ‘Avebury subsequently attracted a monastic cell, and suffered attempts to destroy its standing stones.’
  • 2Biology
    The smallest structural and functional unit of an organism, typically microscopic and consisting of cytoplasm and a nucleus enclosed in a membrane. Microscopic organisms typically consist of a single cell, which is either eukaryotic or prokaryotic.

    • ‘Even mammals have nucleated red blood cells in their bone marrow.’
    • ‘The scientists then used test-tube experiments to show the virus could infect T cells under laboratory conditions.’
    • ‘The neoplastic epithelial cells were cuboidal and had round or oval nuclei and inconspicuous nucleoli.’
    • ‘The scientists also produced a continuously growing line of cultured embryonic germ cells.’
    • ‘When this occurs, the cytoplasm from the two cells fuses, but the nuclei remain separate and distinct.’
    1. 2.1 An enclosed cavity in an organism.
      • ‘The plaque deposits did not form cell casts or polyhedra and did not penetrate into the cell cavities, but were an external deposit only.’
      compartment, cavity, hole, hollow, bay, chamber, slot, niche, section
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    2. 2.2 A small compartment in a larger structure such as a honeycomb.
      • ‘She then deposits a little into a honeycomb cell, built and tilted upright, so that it won't spill.’
      • ‘Once the honey is gooey enough, the bees seal off the cell of the honeycomb with a plug of wax.’
      • ‘Then there's the honeycomb shades, so called because in profile they look like cells of a honeycomb strung together.’
      • ‘The interior of a cell contains structures called organelles that can be compared to the organs in a body.’
      compartment, cavity, hole, hollow, bay, chamber, slot, niche, section
      View synonyms
  • 3A small group forming a nucleus of political activity, typically a secret, subversive one.

    ‘the weapons may be used to arm terrorist cells’
    • ‘We should do everything we can to disrupt and destroy any cells, any activity that would do us harm in this country.’
    • ‘Every agent infiltrating a drug cartel is an agent who could be infiltrating a terrorist cell.’
    • ‘Four bombers blew themselves up but police are investigating whether another member of the terrorist cell is alive and on the run.’
    • ‘Much of the military training consisted of small groups gathering together in secret cells.’
    • ‘Finally, there is a claim it was less a social club than a political cell.’
    • ‘The police claim the weapons belonged to terrorist cells and were seized in several raids across the Kingdom.’
    • ‘The Spanish press prior to 11 March reported major raids by the police against alleged terrorist cells and the seizure of guns and explosives.’
    • ‘Disrupting terrorist cells is an important component of the government's overall counterterrorism efforts.’
    • ‘The extortion then funds the further activities of the terror cell.’
    • ‘In Dewsbury, he gradually emerged as the probable ringleader of the terrorist cell.’
    • ‘It is an open secret now that the ISI has a political cell.’
    • ‘They operate through autonomous cells, strict secrecy, and a refusal to engage the enemy's strength.’
    • ‘With a computer and a connection to the Internet, an individual can do more damage than armed terrorist cells or small insurgent movements.’
    • ‘Those tracking terrorist cells say the trend toward soft targets, like schools, is undeniable and probably unstoppable.’
    • ‘That makes it easy for a small and secretive terrorist cell to go undetected.’
    • ‘He has been linked to a terrorist cell in Hamburg and a flight training school in Florida.’
    • ‘The Red Brigade is the terrorist cell, and mostly serves as the ‘bad guy’ of the film.’
    • ‘They concluded that terrorist cells could send members on flights without any intention of hijacking the plane just to see whether or not members would be flagged.’
    • ‘Drug cartels, terrorist cells, and guerilla movements all reproduce themselves as dictatorships in the end.’
    • ‘Tentatively we can say no to the activity of single cells and yes to that of assemblies.’
    caucus, unit, faction, arm, section, nucleus, clique, coterie, group, party, clan, wing
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  • 4A device containing electrodes immersed in an electrolyte, used for current-generation or electrolysis.

    • ‘An internal short can cause the battery cells to overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.’
    • ‘Previous approaches to study the seal resistance of cells and electrodes lacked high spatial resolution.’
    • ‘For the experiments presented the capacity compensation was set with the electrode close to the cell.’
    • ‘The 8.5g cell generates 100mW of power - enough, Toshiba said, to run am MP3 player for 20 hours.’
    • ‘In our study, we focus on oscillations generated in a single cell.’
    • ‘The copper tube is arranged to form a series of cells called cavities.’
    • ‘The camera has a tiny light source, miniaturized transmitters, and power cells.’
    • ‘Now there is a potential difference between the two cells allowing current to flow.’
    • ‘This is said to be important when welding heat-sensitive parts such as miniature battery cells or sensitive electronic devices.’
    • ‘A few years ago, the companies involved in the voltage race tried to get more cells in NiCad battery packs to power bigger tools.’
    • ‘This seven-ounce magnet was able to support four kilograms of iron using the current from a single cell.’
    • ‘These charged particles continue through the cell to the collecting area where they are attracted to a series of grounded plates.’
    • ‘In addition to electrical conduction, the cells are polarized by the force of applied voltage.’
    accumulator, power unit
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    1. 4.1 A unit in a device for converting chemical or solar energy into electricity.
      • ‘When light was shone on to the tiny cell, an electrical current was generated.’
      • ‘He suggested that China and California work together on hydrogen automobile fuel and solar energy cells.’
      • ‘Solar collectors can preheat feedstock, and solar photovoltaic cells can produce the electricity for the pumps.’
      • ‘Photovoltaic cells produce electricity by using specially treated materials such as silicon that convert light into power.’
      • ‘However, sometimes the hydrogen is generated directly within the cell from another fuel, such as methanol.’
      • ‘Other design factors of the current cell contribute significantly to overall performance.’
      • ‘Most designs use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity.’
      • ‘Konarka says it will enter the market with a photovoltaic cell in late 2004 that will generate solar power at about $2 per watt.’
      • ‘To achieve this, high efficiency heating would be used together with roof panels fitted with photo voltaic cells to provide electricity for the buildings.’
      • ‘Even on cloudy days, there is a lot of scattered radiation - and so PV cells generate energy even when it's overcast.’
      • ‘Although Scotland has the brains to develop them, solar energy and hydrogen cells are all but ignored.’
      • ‘Solar panels forming the roof of the crop store provide both heat and electricity from photovoltaic cells.’
      • ‘As it happens, the periods of intense heat correspond to the periods of peak electricity production from photovoltaic cells.’
      • ‘The cells will generate electricity with cloud cover, rain, and even during a snowstorm, though not as much as they will in bright sun.’
      • ‘Another method of on-site power generation is the photovoltaic cell.’
      • ‘The design includes solar panels and photovoltaic cells which will create electricity and a heat pump which will distribute heat throughout the house.’
      • ‘Photovoltaic cells powered an electric pump and light bulbs in Sweden.’
      • ‘Chemical reactions inside the cell strip electrons from the hydrogen atoms to produce a voltage that can power a circuit.’
      • ‘It contains a fuel tank, and a chemical process occurs in the cell that generates electricity by using up the fuel, which is normally methanol.’
      • ‘Solar photovoltaic cells use the same silicon-based technology as semiconductors.’
  • 5The local area covered by one of the short-range transmitters in a cellular telephone system.

    • ‘And pagers tend not to jam up in emergencies the way overloaded mobile phone cells do.’
    • ‘In densely populated areas, there are more cells, which cover smaller distances, so it is easier to pinpoint the signal of a handset.’
    • ‘In cities, where mobile cells are quite small, this can locate the car to as close as 100 yards, but in rural areas the cell may be as big as six square miles.’
    • ‘The invention is directed to a method for cell selection in a cellular telecommunication system.’
    • ‘The total area within these cells, determines the coverage of a network service provider.’
    • ‘Mobiles located in areas of other cells and operating at the same frequency experience the effect of the tuning signal as an interference.’
    • ‘Each cell has a base station that transmits and receives signals over just a small fraction of the frequencies to which the network operator has access.’
    • ‘Analysis of mobile phone cells showed him heading north on the M1.’
    • ‘The service operates in local areas known as cells.’
    • ‘As the initiated say, in telecommunications lies not only cell and telephone issues but also broadcasting and now Internet.’
    1. 5.1North American
      ‘I'll just call him on his cell’
      short for cellular phone
      • ‘I picked up the cell and pressed the button, waiting for what would come next.’
      • ‘I end the conversation and closed my cell, throwing it onto the passenger seat beside me.’
      • ‘At the moment, mobile operators are almost all relying on cell ID as the means to automatically locate users.’
      • ‘I turned my back on him and walked on, fingering the 911 buttons on my cell.’
      • ‘You'll be able to get a Coke from certain vending machines by pushing a button on your cell.’
      • ‘These new systems will be able to maintain a session even when a subscriber leaves a cell site or a device is turned off.’
      • ‘Police seized cell phones and cell cards.’
      • ‘Aziza hit the end button of her cell and groaned again, throwing her phone to the side.’
      • ‘It lets you make and receive cell calls over a cordless phone and share that handset with a landline.’
      • ‘She was about ready to hit the ‘end’ button on the cell when she heard a clicking sound.’
      • ‘However, this time they would be used to test the Gb stack by simulating calls via virtual mobiles, cells and base stations.’

Origin

Old English, from Old French celle or Latin cella ‘storeroom or chamber’.

Pronunciation

cell

/sɛl//sel/