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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cilia \Cil"i*a\, n. pl. Cilium, the sing., is rarely used. [L. cilium eyelid.]

  1. (Anat.) The eyelashes.

  2. (Biol.) Small, generally microscopic, vibrating appendages lining certain organs, as the air passages of the higher animals, and in the lower animals often covering also the whole or a part of the exterior. They are also found on some vegetable organisms. In the Infusoria, and many larval forms, they are locomotive organs.

  3. (Bot.) Hairlike processes, commonly marginal and forming a fringe like the eyelash.

  4. (Zo["o]l.) Small, vibratory, swimming organs, somewhat resembling true cilia, as those of Ctenophora.


Cilium \Cil"i*um\, n. [L., eyelid.] See Cilia.


n. (context cytology English) A hairlike organelle projecting from a eukaryotic cell (such as a unicellular organism or one cell of a multicelled organism). These structures serve either for locomotion by moving or as sensors.

  1. n. a hairlike projection from the surface of a cell; provides locomotion in free-swimming unicellular organisms

  2. any of the short curved hairs that grow from the edges of the eyelids [syn: eyelash, lash]

  3. [also: cilia (pl)]


A cilium (Latin for eyelash; the plural is cilia) is an organelle found in eukaryotic cells. Cilia are thick protuberances that project from the much larger cell body.

There are two types of cilia: motile cilia and nonmotile, or primary cilia, which typically serve as sensory organelles. In eukaryotes, motile cilia and flagella together make up a group of organelles known as undulipodia. Eukaryotic cilia are structurally identical to eukaryotic flagella, although distinctions are sometimes made according to function and/or length. Biologists have various ideas about how the various flagella may have evolved.

Usage examples of "cilium".

The bacterial cilium that Behe presents as one of his cases of irreducible complexity is a whiplike rotary paddle used for propulsion, driven by an intricate molecular machine that includes an acid-powered engine, stator housing, O-rings, bushings, and a drive shaft, and is built from over 40 interacting proteins, every one of them essential.

I saw a man rush forward and try to pull a screaming woman away, but when he touched the cilium that held her his hand became fastened to it, too, and they were dragged along together.

Without any warning a whip-like cilium would slash out of the fog, find its victim, and begin to contract.

A human apprentice is nothing but a helping cilium here, and there are no facilities for humans in orbit.

Behe compared these cell parts to a simple mousetrap, with far fewer necessary components than a cilium or flagellum.

Until the second day, the only form of animal life we saw was a kind of black worm fingersized, with hundreds of cilium legs like the bristles of a brush.

Jo block, not a cilium in sight there since the Liebknecht funeral, if not before .

Until the second day, the only form of animal life we saw was a kind of black worm, fingersized, with hundreds of cilium legs like the bristles of a brush.

Well, cilia are part of the cytoskeleton, the internal framework that gives the cell its shape.

The hatcheck girl was a 1960s Cilia Black in a black bustier, and from the wink she dropped Dead Boy it was clear he was a regular.

There are three different sets of self-duplicating nuclei, with the DNA in each set serving different purposes: a large macronucleus, governing the events in regeneration after injury, a set of eight or more micronuclei containing the parts of the genome needed for reproduction, and great numbers of tiny nuclei from which the cilia arise.

A shark-sized paramecium, cilia flailing, flew across the walls, then swam over their heads, and then plunged for the bottom.

As the paramecium glided along, its cilia moving in coordinated undulations, Alex, silent in his sneakers, followed, the tip of his nose tracing a path along the glass.

Only the lower limbs, thicker versions of the raylike cilia, exhibited any kind of stability.

Four Para grouped themselves about the amber sphere, and there was a subdued explosion as the trichocysts which lay embedded at the bases of their cilia, just under the pellicle, burst and cast fine lines of a quickly solidifying liquid into the water.