Definition of cochlea in US English:



  • The spiral cavity of the inner ear containing the organ of Corti, which produces nerve impulses in response to sound vibrations.

    • ‘This measures the responses the cochlea makes to sounds produced by a probe placed in the outer ear.’
    • ‘By completely bypassing the damaged part of the cochlea, the cochlear implant uses its own electrical signals to stimulate the auditory nerve, allowing the person to hear.’
    • ‘The inner ear includes the cochlea, the hearing organ, and the semicircular canals and otolith organs, the sense organs of balance.’
    • ‘In man, the cochlea and the organ of Corti follow a spiral course of two and one half turns.’
    • ‘In the cochlea in the inner ear, the vibrations are changed into electric signals that move along the nerves to the brain.’


Mid 16th century (used to denote spiral objects): from Latin, ‘snail shell or screw’, from Greek kokhlias. The current sense dates from the late 17th century.