cell

Definitions

General English

General Science

  • noun a separate unit or section of something larger
  • noun a fixed-length packet of data, e.g. one in the ATM system containing 53-octets of data

Astronomy

  • The mechanical housing used to hold a telescope mirror or lens. For cells in a different astronomical sense.

Aviation

  • noun the central part of a thunder cloud

Cars & Driving

Computing

  • noun a single function or number in a spreadsheet program
  • noun a single memory location, capable of storing a data word, accessed by an individual address
  • noun a fixed-length packet of data, e.g. a cell in the ATM system contains 53

Electronics

  • A single unit which converts chemical, thermal, nuclear, or solar energy into electrical energy. For example, a solar cell, or a voltaic cell. Also called electric cell, or energy cell.
  • A cell (1) within a battery. Cell and battery are commonly used interchangeably, although a battery consists of more than one cell.
  • In computers, an elementary unit of storage, such as a binary cell.
  • A unit where numbers, data, or formulas may be placed in a spreadsheet. It is formed by the intersection of a column and a row.
  • A small compartment or cavity.
  • In cellular telephony, a geographical area with coverage provided by a cell site.
  • In ATM communications, a unit of transmission consisting of 53 bytes, of which 48 are payload and 5 are overhead.
  • In communications, a unit of transmission consisting of a fixed size or length.

Food

  • noun a tiny unit of matter which is the base of all plant and animal tissue

Information & Library Science

  • noun a space for information in a table such as a computer spreadsheet, formed where a row and a column intersect

Law

  • noun a small room in a prison or police station where a criminal can be kept locked up

Media Studies

  • noun the local area covered by one of the transmitters in a mobile telephone network

Military

  • noun a small room used to hold a prisoner
  • noun a small group which forms part of a larger organization
  • noun the department of a headquarters in the field

Politics

  • noun a small group of people who work closely or secretly together within a larger organisation, especially a political organisation

Origin & History of “cell”

Cell has branched out a lot over the centuries, but its original meaning seems to be ‘small secluded room’, for it comes ultimately from an Indo-European base *kel-, which is also the source of English conceal, clandestine, and occult. It came into English either via Old French celle or directly from Latin cella ‘small room, storeroom, inner room of a temple’, and at first was used mainly in the sense ‘small subsidiary monastery’. It is not until the 14th century that we find it being used for small individual apartments within a monastic building, and the development from this to ‘room in a prison’ came as late as the 18th century. In medieval biology the term was applied metaphorically to bodily cavities, and from the 17th century onwards it began to be used in the more modern sense ‘smallest structural unit of an organism’ (the botanist Nehemiah Grew was apparently the first so to use it, in the 1670s). A late Latin derivative of cella was cellārium ‘group of cells, storeroom’; this was the source of English cellar (13th c.), via Anglo-Norman celer.
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