Definition of cylinder in US English:



  • 1A solid geometric figure with straight parallel sides and a circular or oval cross section.

    • ‘The artists also showed they were influenced by Cubist ideas by the way they focused attention on cylinders, cubes and other geometric forms.’
    • ‘Simple geometrical arrangements such as an ellipsoid or a cylinder are often used to gauge the shape of particles such as micelles and proteins.’
    • ‘I prefer the restrained vista-framing, avenue-forming, gentle shapes of cylinders, spires and cones.’
    • ‘For this purpose, we represent the globular proteins with spheres and the membrane proteins with cylinders.’
    • ‘His specific sculptural language can be reduced to four basic elements or motifs that appear as pure geometrical forms - the ovoid, the cube, the cylinder and the truncated pyramid.’
    • ‘Volumes of solids such as prisms, pyramids, tetrahedrons, wedges, cylinders and truncated cones are calculated.’
    • ‘He goes on to consider solid geometry giving results on prisms, cylinders, and spheres.’
    • ‘It was a tiny vase with a long neck, in the shape of a plain cylinder.’
    • ‘Narnia uses stencil shadows generated from implicit geometry representations such as cylinders and ellipsoids, and also extruded polygons.’
    • ‘Joining the top and bottom of this rectangle produces a cylinder.’
    1. 1.1 A solid or hollow body, object, or part having the shape of a cylinder.
      • ‘Control rods are solid cylinders of metal constructed of some material that has an ability to absorb neutrons.’
      • ‘Cut the dough into two equal portions, flour them lightly, and tuck and shape them into fat cylinders.’
      • ‘The annulus is a hollow cylinder which surrounds the nucleus.’
      • ‘The cylinders exert pressure on the bale to create tight, dense bales.’
      • ‘The item was a metal cylinder, much like a hard steel tube.’
      • ‘Nanotubes are hollow cylinders of pure carbon that are just one atom thick.’
      • ‘Concrete-filled cast iron cylinders and concrete abutments form the foundations.’
      • ‘Many materials scientists predict that the tiny, hollow cylinders of carbon atoms known as carbon nanotubes will eventually lead to a new generation of supersmall transistors.’
      • ‘The worshipers light incense sticks, kneel before the main altar, make a wish, and shake a bamboo cylinder containing fortune sticks until one falls out.’
      • ‘Fire extinguishers are sturdy metal cylinders filled with water or a smothering material.’
      • ‘A barrel-organ contains a pin-studded cylinder turned by a handle - the pins open pipes to act upon the keys as the handle is turned.’
      • ‘Form the marzipan into a cylinder the same length as the stollen dough.’
      • ‘Patrick had the small metal cylinder clipped on his belt.’
      • ‘Smoke has started to filter out of the evenly spaced holes along one side of the cylinder.’
      • ‘The magnets of the MRI system are housed in two cylinders - one on each side of the patient's head.’
      • ‘The shinai is approximately four feet in length and is made of four carefully formed bamboo slats bound together to form hollow cylinder.’
      • ‘The long, very narrow, hollow cylinders of carbon atoms built like a rolled up honeycomb have attracted researchers in several fields because of their unique chemical and physical properties.’
      • ‘The cell body is actually a cylinder capped at both ends by hemispheres and the radius of the flagellum helix is smaller than that of the cell body.’
      tube, conduit, hose, main, duct, line, channel, canal, conveyor, pipeline, drain, tubing, piping, siphon
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    2. 1.2 A piston chamber in a steam or internal combustion engine.
      • ‘With both valves closed following combustion, the pistons in those cylinders come up and compress the exhaust gases instead of pumping them out.’
      • ‘The force of the resulting explosion pushes the piston down the cylinder for the exhaust stroke.’
      • ‘Pushing the piston higher into the cylinder compresses the air-fuel charge more tightly and produces more efficient combustion.’
      • ‘The pistons, cylinders and other essential parts of the engine are subjected to extreme stress if the heat does not escape.’
      • ‘After the spark plug has fired and ignited the mixture, excess gases are pushed by the piston out of the cylinder towards the exhaust system.’
      • ‘The cylinders have to be right and their fit with the piston rings perfect.’
      • ‘In a diesel engine a fuel air mixture is injected into a cylinder where it is compressed by a piston.’
      • ‘You can get more displacement in an engine either by increasing the number of cylinders or by making the combustion chambers of all the cylinders bigger.’
      • ‘Think of a cylinder and a piston in an old steam engine.’
      • ‘Besides leaving salt deposits, rusting internal parts and causing valve damage, water in an engine also makes short work of pistons and cylinders.’
      • ‘The cylinder incorporates a central spring loaded bushing that permits the cylinder to move forward and backward.’
      • ‘Eight hydraulic cylinders are then actuated by an electric motor/pump system.’
      • ‘The steam is then fed to cylinders, where it forces the pistons back and forth.’
      • ‘The engine truck is designed to provide ample clearance for the removal of the pistons from the cylinders with the truck in place.’
      • ‘When a cylinder fires, the piston rod is at an angle and can immediately turn the crankshaft via the cam at the end of the pivoting arm.’
      • ‘The advanced technology that he found at Coalbrookdale impressed him greatly, particularly the machine for boring cylinders for steam engines.’
      • ‘The engine-room ventilation hatches are open and I poke my head inside, counting five cylinders on the steam engine below.’
    3. 1.3 A cylindrical container for liquefied gas under pressure.
      • ‘Ethylene enrichment was provided by cylinders containing a mixed calibrated gas.’
      • ‘Residents were forced to evacuate their Eastwood homes after a field fire swept through garden sheds containing potentially explosive gas cylinders.’
      • ‘The crews contained the fire within an hour and prevented the cylinders from exploding, but were only able to secure the area by late afternoon on the following day, allowing residents to return to their homes.’
      • ‘Three weeks ago residents were evacuated from their South Croydon homes following a fire in a workshop which contained gas cylinders.’
      • ‘The living room contains a gas-stove, two gas cylinders, a three-seater chair and a centre table.’
      • ‘Brave fire fighters spent the whole of last weekend containing a blaze involving unexploded highly flammable gas cylinders after a field fire spread into a Feltham motor repair garage.’
      • ‘While dealing with the blaze, the fire fighters also came across a number of cylinders including two that contained highly volatile acetylene gas.’
      • ‘The buses run on hydrogen gas, contained in six cylinders on the bus roof, and emit only pure water vapour.’
      • ‘The fuel cell unit with a power output of 200 kW and the pressurized gas cylinders containing compressed hydrogen are accommodated on the roof.’
      • ‘They spent about 30 minutes tackling the blaze, which involved pressurised cylinders and completely destroyed an outbuilding.’
      • ‘The diver would breathe air supplied by pipes from the surface or via pressurised cylinders attached to the outside of the chamber.’
      • ‘There was also a compressor and Angus was shown how to pressurise the air cylinders while Hopkirk and friends were out on the loch with the launch.’
      • ‘Fire crews from across south Essex and east London were called to battle a blaze in a scrapyard containing potentially explosive cylinders.’
      • ‘The pressure within the cylinder had increased due to the heat.’
      • ‘Police closed the street because one of the cabins contained a gas cylinder.’
      • ‘The fire started in the 20-metre by 10-metre workshop which contained a cylinder of hazardous acetylene.’
      • ‘They discovered a fire on a road contractor's lorry, which contained two propane cylinders that could have exploded in the heat.’
      • ‘The emergency situation was sparked after a fire broke out in a shed in the back garden of a Portchester house where there was a 4ft cylinder containing oxyacetylene gas.’
      • ‘The grounds were full of empty fridges, gas cylinders and empty containers of sulphuric acid.’
      • ‘Automatic pressure regulators are often used to lower gas pressure in a cylinder to safe levels for a particular job.’
      • ‘Residents from around 200 houses in Colne had to leave their properties at 8pm after a fire at a block of garages containing cylinders of highly explosive gas on Tuesday night.’
      cassette, magazine, canister, container, capsule, case, pack, packet, package
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    4. 1.4 A rotating metal roller in a printing press.
      tube, scroll
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    5. 1.5Archaeology A cylinder seal.


Late 16th century: from Latin cylindrus, from Greek kulindros ‘roller’, from kulindein ‘to roll’.