One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A mature female reproductive cell, especially of a human or other animal, which can divide to give rise to an embryo usually only after fertilization by a male cell.
- ‘When a human sperm fertilizes a human ovum, a single cell is created with the potential to grow into a human person.’
- ‘As in most other animals, the sperm mitochondria penetrate the cell membrane of the ovum at fertilization.’
- ‘An ovum (plural ova) is a mature egg released at ovulation.’
- ‘There are a few exceptions to this pattern, most famously in seahorses where females have an ovipositor which places unfertilized ova into the male's pouch for insemination.’
- ‘The ovaries perform both an exocrine function by producing ova and an endocrine function by producing estrogen and progesterone.’
Early 18th century: from Latin, literally ‘egg’.
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