Etymology
Advertisement

cell (n.)

early 12c., "small monastery, subordinate monastery" (from Medieval Latin in this sense), later "small room for a monk or a nun in a monastic establishment; a hermit's dwelling" (c. 1300), from Latin cella "small room, store room, hut," related to Latin celare "to hide, conceal," from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save."

From "monastic room" the sense was extended to "prison room" (1722). The word was used in 14c., figuratively, of brain "compartments" as the abode of some faculty; it was used in biology by 17c. of various cavities (wood structure, segments of fruit, bee combs), gradually focusing to the modern sense of "basic structure of all living organisms" (which OED dates to 1845).

Electric battery sense is from 1828, based on the "compartments" in very early types. Meaning "small group of people working within a larger organization" is from 1925. Cell-body is from 1851, cell-division from 1846, cell-membrane from 1837 (but cellular membrane is 1732), cell wall from 1842.

Others are reading

Advertisement
Advertisement
Definitions of cell

cell (n.)
any small compartment;
the cells of a honeycomb
cell (n.)
(biology) the basic structural and functional unit of all organisms; they may exist as independent units of life (as in monads) or may form colonies or tissues as in higher plants and animals;
cell (n.)
a device that delivers an electric current as the result of a chemical reaction;
Synonyms: electric cell
cell (n.)
a small unit serving as part of or as the nucleus of a larger political movement;
Synonyms: cadre
cell (n.)
a hand-held mobile radiotelephone for use in an area divided into small sections, each with its own short-range transmitter/receiver;
Synonyms: cellular telephone / cellular phone / cellphone / mobile phone
cell (n.)
small room in which a monk or nun lives;
Synonyms: cubicle
cell (n.)
a room where a prisoner is kept;
Synonyms: jail cell / prison cell
From wordnet.princeton.edu