Meaning of CELL in English

cell S3 W2 /sel/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1100-1200 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: celle , from Latin cella 'small room' ]

1 . BODY the smallest part of a living thing that can exist independently

blood/brain/nerve cell

red blood cells

cancer cells

Embryos grow by cell division (=the splitting of cells) .

2 .

PRISON a small room in a prison or police station where prisoners are kept:

He spent a night in the cells at the local police station.

the walls of his prison cell

3 . PHONE American English a ↑ cellular phone ; a telephone that you can carry around with you, that works by using a network of radio stations to pass on signals SYN mobile British English :

Call me on my cell if you’re running late.

4 . ELECTRIC a piece of equipment for producing electricity from chemicals, heat, or light:

a car powered by electric fuel cells

5 . SECRET GROUP a small group of people who are working secretly as part of a larger political organization:

a terrorist cell

6 . RELIGIOUS a small room in a ↑ monastery or ↑ convent where someone sleeps

7 . INSECT/SMALL ANIMAL a small space that an insect or other small creature has made to live in or use:

the cells of a honeycomb

• • •



▪ a blood/nerve/brain/muscle etc cell

No new brain cells are produced after birth.

▪ a human/animal/plant cell

the structure of plant cells

▪ a red cell (=the most common type of blood cell)

The red cells carry the oxygen.

▪ a white cell (=a type of blood cell that defends your body against disease)

In leukaemia there is an abnormal and excessive formation of white cells.

▪ a living/dead cell

Every living cell has a nucleus.

▪ normal/abnormal

The test enables doctors to detect abnormal cells.

▪ a stem cell (=one that divides and repairs the body, and may be used in medical treatment)

Stem cells may make life-saving treatment possible.

▪ a cancer cell

Already there are many treatments which destroy cancer cells.

■ verbs

▪ a cell divides

White blood cells divide rapidly.

■ cell + NOUN

▪ cell division

The embryo grows by cell division.

▪ a cell count (=the number of cells in a particular amount of blood)

A healthy person' s red cell count is close to 1, 000.

• • •


▪ prison a large building where people are kept as a punishment for a crime or while they are waiting to go to court for their trial:

He was sentenced to five years in prison.


Wandsworth Prison

▪ jail a prison, or a similar smaller building where prisoners are kept for a short time:

This old building is the jail that Butch Cassidy escaped from in 1887.


He was taken to a cell in the Los Angeles County Jail.


58% of prisoners are in jail for non-violent crimes.


The strikers were harassed, beaten and put in jail for trespassing.


Grover got caught for not paying his taxes and was sent to jail.

▪ gaol /dʒeɪl/ British English another way of spelling jail :

He spent the night in gaol.

▪ penitentiary /ˌpenəˈtenʃəri, ˌpenɪˈtenʃəri/ American English a large prison for people who are guilty of serious crimes:

the Ohio State Penitentiary


The murderer served 10 years at the penitentiary in Stillwater.


the abandoned federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island

▪ correctional facility American English formal an official word for a prison:

1,000 prisoners rioted at the North County Correctional Facility.

▪ detention centre British English , detention center American English a place where young people who have done something illegal are kept, because they are too young to go to prison. Also used about a place where people who have entered a country illegally are kept:

Kevin, who had been abandoned by his mother, had been in and out of detention centres all his life.


a juvenile detention center


Harmondsworth detention centre, near Heathrow airport

▪ open prison British English a prison in which prisoners have more freedom than in an ordinary prison, usually because their crimes were less serious:

In some open prisons, prisoners are allowed to go home at weekends.

▪ cell a small room in a prison or police station, where someone is kept as a punishment:

a prison cell


Conditions were poor, and there were several prisoners to one cell.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.