English

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Pronunciation

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Etymology 1

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From Middle English celle, selle, from Old English cell (attested in inflected forms), from Latin cella (chamber, small room, compartment), later reinforced by Old French cel, sele, Old French cele. ultimately from Proto-Italic *kelnā, from Proto-Indo-European *ḱelneh₂, from Proto-Indo-European *ḱel- (to cover). Doublet of cella and hall.

Noun

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cell (plural cells)

 
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  1. A single-room dwelling for a hermit. [from 10th c.]
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, “Book VI, Canto VI”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC:
      So, taking them apart into his cell, / He to that point fit speaches gan to frame […].
    • 1764, Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, section IV:
      For three days he and his attendants had wandered in the forest without seeing a human form: but on the evening of the third they came to a cell, in which they found a venerable hermit in the agonies of death.
  2. (now historical) A small monastery or nunnery dependent on a larger religious establishment. [from 11th c.]
  3. A small room in a monastery or nunnery accommodating one person. [from 14th c.]
    Gregor Mendel must have spent a good amount of time outside of his cell.
    • 2002, Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife, Phoenix (2012), page 315:
      A nunʼs bedroom is properly called a cell and is small, bare, and plain, without comfort.
  4. A room in a prison or jail for one or more inmates. [from 18th c.]
    Synonym: prison cell
    The combatants spent the night in separate cells.
  5. Each of the small hexagonal compartments in a honeycomb. [from 14th c.]
  6. (biology, now chiefly botany) Any of various chambers in a tissue or organism having specific functions. [from 14th c.]
    • 1858, Asa Gray, Introduction to Structural and Systematic Botany, fifth edition, p. 282:
      Each of the two cells or lobes of the anther is marked with a lateral line or furrow, running from top to bottom [].
  7. (entomology) The discal cell of the wing of a lepidopteran insect.
  8. (obsolete) Specifically, any of the supposed compartments of the brain, formerly thought to be the source of specific mental capacities, knowledge, or memories. [14th–19th c.]
    • 1782–1785, William Cowper, “(please specify the page)”, in The Task, a Poem, [], London: [] J[oseph] Johnson;  [], →OCLC:
      How soft the music of those village bells / [] With easy force it opens all the cells / Where mem'ry slept.
    • 1794, Mary Wollstonecraft, An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution:
      [W]e shall feel still more contempt for the order of men, who cultivated their faculties, only to enable them to consolidate their power, by leading the ignorant astray; making the learning they concentrated in their cells, a more polished instrument of oppression.
    • 1890, Oscar Wilde, chapter XVI, in The Picture of Dorian Gray:
      From cell to cell of his brain crept the one thought; and the wild desire to live, most terrible of all man's appetites, quickened into force each trembling nerve and fibre.
  9. A section or compartment of a larger structure. [from 16th c.]
  10. (obsolete, chiefly literary) Any small dwelling; a remote nook, a den. [16th–19th c.]
  11. A device which stores electrical power; used either singly or together in batteries; the basic unit of a battery. [from 19th c.]
    This MP3 player runs on 2 AAA cells.
  12. (biology) The basic unit of a living organism, consisting of a quantity of protoplasm surrounded by a cell membrane, which is able to synthesize proteins and replicate itself. [from 19th c.]
    • 1999 February 15, Paul Brown, Dave King, The Guardian:
      An American company has applied to experiment in Britain on Parkinson's disease sufferers by injecting their brains with cells from pigs.
    • 2011, Terence Allen, Graham Cowling, The Cell: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, page 3:
      In multicellular organisms, groups of cells form tissues and tissues come together to form organs.
  13. (meteorology) A small thunderstorm, caused by convection, that forms ahead of a storm front. [from 20th c.]
    There is a powerful storm cell headed our way.
  14. (cellular automata) The minimal unit of a cellular automaton that can change state and has an associated behavior. [from 20th c.]
    The upper right cell always starts with the color green.
    • 1988 January 26, David Hiebeler, “Fast way to update grids”, in comp.theory.cell-automata[1] (Usenet):
      Basically, I'm looking for a fast (the fastest?) way of updating grids, where each cell has to look at an arbitrary number of its neighbors.
    • 2010 March 10, Jean H., “What is CA for?”, in comp.theory.cell-automata[2] (Usenet):
      It is used for land-use change simulations, where the content of the cells surrounding a central cell defines how this cell is going to evolve (for example, a cell that is "agriculture" but has 3 urban neighbors will likely become urban, while if it is surrounded by forest or other agriculture cells, it will remain agriculture.)
    • 2022 February 11, Mateon1, “Game of Life with real 8 neighbors”, in comp.theory.cell-automata[3] (Usenet):
      I've seen this space colloqually referred to as MAP (presumably since it maps a 3x3 neighborhood into a future cell state)
  15. (card games) In FreeCell-type games, a space where one card can be placed.
  16. A small group of people forming part of a larger organization, often an outlawed one. [from 20th c.]
    Those three fellows are the local cell of that organization.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect, Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Salarians: Special Tasks Group Codex entry:
      Salarian intelligence field agents are grouped into an organization called the Special Tasks Group. STG operators work in independent cells, performing dangerous missions such as counter-terrorism, infiltration, reconnaissance, assassination, and sabotage.
  17. (communication) A short, fixed-length packet, as in asynchronous transfer mode. [from 20th c.]
    Virtual Channel number 5 received 170 cells.
  18. (communication) A region of radio reception that is a part of a larger radio network.
    I get good reception in my home because it is near a cell tower.
  19. (geometry) A three-dimensional facet of a polytope.
  20. (statistics) The unit in a statistical array (a spreadsheet, for example) where a row and a column intersect.
  21. (architecture) The space between the ribs of a vaulted roof.
  22. (architecture) A cella.
  23. (entomology) An area of an insect wing bounded by veins.
Usage notes
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In the sense of an electrical device, "cell" is the technically correct name for a single unit of battery-type power storage, whereas a battery is a device comprising multiple of them, though it is often used for simple cells.

Quotations
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Synonyms
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Hyponyms
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Derived terms
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Translations
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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb

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cell (third-person singular simple present cells, present participle celling, simple past and past participle celled)

  1. (transitive) To place or enclose in a cell.
    • 1586, William Warner, Albion's England:
      Myself a recluse from the world, And celled under ground, Lest that the gould, the precious stones, And pleasures, here be found

Etymology 2

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From cell phone, from cellular phone, from cellular + telephone.

Noun

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cell (plural cells)

  1. (US, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, informal) A cellular phone.
Usage notes
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  • Widely used attributively.
Translations
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Further reading

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Dutch

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Etymology

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Clipping of cellulair or borrowed directly from English cell.

Pronunciation

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  • IPA(key): /sɛl/
  • Hyphenation: cell

Noun

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cell m (plural cells, diminutive celltje n)

  1. (Suriname, colloquial) cellular phone, mobile phone.
    Synonyms: (Belgium) gsm, (Netherlands) mobiel
    • 2001, Alex van Stipriaan, “Contact! Marrons en de transport- en communicatierevolutie in het Surinaamse binnenland [Contact! Maroons and the transport and communication revolution in Suriname's hinterland]”, in OSO. Tijdschrift voor Surinaamse taalkunde, letterkunde en geschiedenis[4], page 41:
      Door de ‘cell’ is het mogelijk de banden met verwanten elders innig te houden of zelfs te herstellen.
      The mobile phone makes it possible to keep close ties with relatives elsewhere or even to restore them.

Derived terms

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French

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Etymology

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Clipping of cellulaire; influenced by North American English cell

Pronunciation

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Noun

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cell m (plural cells)

  1. (Quebec, colloquial) cellular phone, mobile phone; clipping of téléphone cellulaire.
    Synonyms: portable, téléphone portable, téléphone cellulaire, cellulaire, téléphone mobile, mobile

Middle English

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Noun

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cell

  1. Alternative form of celle

Old Irish

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Etymology

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Borrowed from Latin cella.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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cell f

  1. church

Inflection

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Feminine ā-stem
Singular Dual Plural
Nominative cellL ceillL, cill cellaH
Vocative cellL ceillL, cill cellaH
Accusative ceillN, cill ceillL, cill cellaH
Genitive cilleH cellL cellN
Dative ceillL, cill cellaib cellaib
Initial mutations of a following adjective:
  • H = triggers aspiration
  • L = triggers lenition
  • N = triggers nasalization

Descendants

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  • Irish: cill
  • Manx: keeill
  • Scottish Gaelic: cill

Mutation

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Old Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Nasalization
cell chell cell
pronounced with /ɡ(ʲ)-/
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

References

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Swedish

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Etymology

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From Latin cella

Pronunciation

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Noun

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cell c

  1. cell; a room in a prison.
  2. Cell; a room in a monastery for sleeping one person.
  3. Cell; a small group of people forming part of a larger organization.
  4. (biology) Cell; the basic unit of a living organism.
  5. (biology) Cell; a cavity in a structure such as a honeycomb.
  6. (computing) Cell; a minimal unit of a cellular automaton.

Declension

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Declension of cell 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative cell cellen celler cellerna
Genitive cells cellens cellers cellernas

Derived terms

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References

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Welsh

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Etymology

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From Middle Welsh kell, from Proto-Brythonic *kell, from Latin cella.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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cell f (plural celloedd, diminutive cellan)

  1. cell

Derived terms

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Mutation

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Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
cell gell nghell chell
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.