- The smallest units of living structure capable of independent existence, composed of a membrane-enclosed mass of protoplasm and containing a nucleus or nucleoid. Cells are highly variable and specialized in both structure and function, though all must at some stage replicate proteins and nucleic acids, utilize energy, and reproduce themselves.
Definition from: NCI Thesaurus via Unified Medical Language System at the National Library of Medicine
- A cell is the basic building block of living things. All cells can be sorted into one of two groups: eukaryotes and prokaryotes. A eukaryote has a nucleus and membrane-bound organelles, while a prokaryote does not. Plants and animals are made of numerous eukaryotic cells, while many microbes, such as bacteria, consist of single cells. An adult human body is estimated to contain between 10 and 100 trillion cells.
Definition from: Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms from the National Human Genome Research Institute
Related discussion in the Handbook
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.