See also: réceptacle


Illustrations of buckets, funnels and other receptacles (sense 1) from Handbook of Ornament (8th ed, 1910?)[1]
The receptacle (sense 2, grey) in relation to the ovary (red) in three types of flowers: hypogynous (I), perigynous (II), and epigynous (III)
Thalli of the bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus). The inflated structures at the tips are receptacles (sense 3).
Four types of duplex NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) receptacles (sense 4) often used in North America


Borrowed from Anglo-Norman receptacle, from Middle French receptacle (organ containing a fluid; gathering place; water basin) (modern French réceptacle), from Latin receptāculum (animal enclosure, container, place of refuge, receptacle, repository, reservoir, shelter), from receptāre (to harbour, to receive, to shelter) or receptō (I receive back or again, I recover), frequentative of recipiō (I receive; I hold back, I reserve) (from re- (back, again) + capiō (I hold)) + -culum (suffix forming nouns from verbs, particularly nouns representing tools and instruments); cognate with Italian recettaculo, ricettaculo, Portuguese receptáculo, Spanish receptáculo.



receptacle (plural receptacles)

  1. A container.
    • 1818, anonymous [Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley], chapter III, in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. In Three Volumes, London: Printed for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones, Finsbury Square, OCLC 682152368; republished as Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (Standard Novels; no. IX), rev. and corr. edition, London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street; Bell & Bradfute Edinburgh; J. Cumming, Dublin, 1839, OCLC 316824153, page 38:
      Darkness had no effect upon my fancy; and a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength, had become food for the worm.
    • 1829 April, “Dorset Pauper Lunatic Asylum”, in The Crypt, or Receptacle for Things Past, and West of England Magazine (New Series), volume I, part I, number IV, Winchester, Hampshire: Published by Charles Henry Wheeler, Public Library, High-Street, OCLC 4681193, pages 147–148:
      It must be conceded that a common poor-house is by no means a fit receptacle for lunatics, under any consideration either of the cure of the patients, or the comfort of the other inmates.
    • 2012, Y. H. Hui, “Sanitation Performance Standards”, in Y. H. Hui, editor, Handbook of Meat and Meat Processing, 2nd edition, Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press, →ISBN, page 733:
      Receptacles used for storing inedible material must be of such material and construction that their use will not result in the adulteration of any edible product or in the creation of insanitary conditions. Such receptacles must not be used for storing any edible product and must bear conspicuous and distinctive marking to identify the permitted uses.
  2. (botany) The part of the flower stalk (peduncle or pedicel) to which the floral parts are attached; a thalamus, a torus.
    • 1992, F[ocko] Weberling; R. J. Pankhurst, transl., “Morphology of Flowers”, in Morphology of Flowers and Inflorescences, 1st paperback edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 19:
      The form of the flower is highly dependent on the structure of the receptacle, even though this may not always be obvious externally. The receptacle is also called the floral axis, or it is sometimes called the torus, which may be translated as "swelling". These expressions per se imply that, although in the majority of cases the receptacle is greatly reduced, it is frequently thickened in a capitate form or broadened into a definitely disc-like shape.
    • 2003, Ian Clarke; Helen Lee, “The Structure of Flowers”, in Name that Flower: The Identification of Flowering Plants, 2nd edition, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, Melbourne University Publishing, →ISBN, page 7:
      A basic flower [] has four series of parts arranged in concentric whorls (or rings) on the receptacle, which is the name given to the expanded end of the pedicel (flower stalk).
    1. In the Asteraceae (aster or sunflower family), the end of the peduncle to which all of the florets of the flower head are attached.
      • 2015, Robert H. Mohlenbrock, “Descriptions and Illustrations”, in Flowering Plants: Asteraceae, Part I (The Illustrated Flora of Illinois), Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, →ISBN, page 7:
        All flowers in a head share a common receptacle. The receptacle may be flat or convex. It may bear tiny scales called paleae. The paleae of a receptacle are referred to as chaff. Receptacles without paleae are said to be epaleate or naked. When the paleae are shed, they may leave either a smooth or a pitted receptacle. Occasionally, hairs, scales, or bristles may also be present on the receptacle.
  3. (phycology) A structure at the end of a branch of an alga containing conceptacles (reproductive organs).
    • 1830, Robert Kaye Greville, “Order I.—FUCOIDEÆ.”, in Algæ Britannicæ, or Descriptions of the Marine and Other Inarticulated Plants of the British Islands, Belonging to the Order Algæ; with Plates Illustrative of the Genera, Edinburgh: Maclachlan & Stewart, Edinburgh; and Baldwin & Cradock, London, OCLC 69235734, page 1:
      Plants all marine, of an olive-brown or olive-green colour, becoming black on exposure to air; [] Frutification, tubercles contained in distinct receptacles, or embedded in the frond, and containing dark-coloured seeds surrounded with a pellucid limbus, which escape by a terminal pore.
    • 2013, George Karleskint, Jr.; Richard Turner; James W. Small, Jr., “Multicellular Primary Producers”, in Introduction to Marine Biology, 4th edition, Belmont, Calif.: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning, →ISBN, figure 7-12 caption, page 170:
      In addition to gas bladders, the thallus of reproductive rockweed, Fucus, has inflated tips called receptacles. The small bumps on the surface of each receptacle are conceptacles, chambers within which the gametangia grow.
  4. (zoology) An organ that receives and holds a secretion.
  5. (electricity, US) A contact device installed at an outlet for the connection of an attachment plug (typically by receiving the plug's prongs) to supply portable appliances or equipment.
    • 2002, Charles R. Miller, “Section 1: Foundational Provisions”, in Illustrated Guide to the National Electrical Code: Based on the 2002 National Electrical Code, 2nd edition, Albany, N.Y.: Delmar Thomson Learning, →ISBN, unit 2 (Definitions), page 22:
      A contact device installed at an outlet for the connection of an attachment plug is a receptacle []. A multiple receptacle is a single device consisting of two or more receptacles [].
    • 2008, “Receptacles”, in The Complete Guide to Wiring (Complete Guide series), 4th rev. edition, Minneapolis, Minn.: Creative Publishing International, →ISBN, page 103:
      Whether you call them outlets, plug-ins, or receptacles, these important devices represent the point where the rubber meets the road in your home wiring system. From the basic 15-amp, 120-volt duplex receptacle to the burly 50-amp, 240-volt appliance receptacle, the many outlets in your home do pretty much the same thing: transmit power to a load.



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  1. ^ Franz Sales Meyer ([1910?]) , “Vases, &c.”, in Handbook of Ornament: A Grammar of Art Industrial and Architectural Designing in All Its Branches for Practical as well as Theoretical Use, 8th edition, New York, N.Y.: The Bruno Hessling Company, OCLC 436305315, page 325, plate 192.

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