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The Collaborative International Dictionary

organelle \organelle\ n. (Biol.) a specialized part of a cell performing a specific function, usually visible under the microscope as a distinct object; it is analogous to an organ[2], but on a microscopic scale.

Syn: cell organ.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1909, from Modern Latin organella, a diminutive from Latin organum "instrument," in Medieval Latin "organ of the body" (see organ).


n. (label en cytology) A specialized structure found inside cells that carries out a specific life process (''e.g.'' ribosomes, vacuoles).


n. a specialized part of a cell; analogous to an organ; "the first organelle to be identified was the nucleus" [syn: cell organ]


In cell biology, an organelle is a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specific function. Individual organelles are usually separately enclosed within their own lipid bilayers.

The name organelle comes from the idea that these structures are to cells what an organ is to the body (hence the name organelle, the suffix -elle being a diminutive). Organelles are identified by microscopy, and can also be purified by cell fractionation. There are many types of organelles, particularly in eukaryotic cells. While prokaryotes do not possess organelles per se, some do contain protein-based microcompartments, which are thought to act as primitive organelles.

Usage examples of "organelle".

The marshaling of the organelles, the development of the eukaryotic membrane, energy by ingestion, colonies, differentiation, the notochord, the brain, the first croak of distress, courtship, self-expression: the word has always been permanently restless, wanting only to repeat imperfectly, recast what it has been until then.

Then came a bump on the screen as the cells contracted while the cytoplasmic organelles worked like crazy to pump the ions back into the extracellular fluid.

The organelles within our cells go about their business of energy exchange in an autonomous way and maintain their horizontal relationships within the framework of the world-wide Gaia system.

Or could it be in that delirious sky over Baghdad, with white streaks and flares whirling in the electric blue of the nightscope like a kind of strange cellular activity, the darting of sperm in an inky womb, the mysterious associations of organelles, that some magic had been at work, infecting those who fought beneath it with unending dissatisfaction?

Those are the organelles that live inside plant cells and give them the ability to use sunlight for photosynthesis.

We haven't been able to figure out what most of its organelles do, what their terrestrial cognates would be, and it builds proteins using a couple of amino acids that we don't.

The Korozhet can exude suckerlike pedicellaria, ocelli (simple eyes) and other sensory organelles from the hollow spines.