Alveoli – Definition & Meaning

Alveoli are tiny air sacs found in the lungs. They are responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide during the process of breathing. Alveoli are a crucial part of the respiratory system, and any damage or disease affecting them can lead to serious health problems.


Alveoli are defined as small, hollow sacs found in the lungs where the exchange of gases takes place. They are composed of a single layer of cells and are surrounded by a network of blood vessels. Alveoli are also known as pulmonary alveoli or simply as air sacs.


The word alveoli comes from the Latin word “alveolus” which means “little cavity” or “small hollow.” The term was first used in the context of anatomy in the 17th century.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, alveoli are defined as “small air-filled sacs in the lungs where gas exchange takes place.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines them as “small sacs in the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged.”


Alveoli are associated with the respiratory system, as they are responsible for the exchange of gases during breathing. They are also associated with diseases such as emphysema and pneumonia, which can damage or inflame the alveoli.


Synonyms for alveoli include air sacs, pulmonary alveoli, and lung sacs.


As alveoli are a specific anatomical structure, there are no antonyms that are directly related to them.

The same root words

The root word for alveoli is “alveolus,” which is also used in other anatomical terms such as dental alveoli (the sockets in which teeth are anchored) and mammary alveoli (the milk-producing glands in the breasts).

Example Sentences

  • The alveoli are responsible for the exchange of gases during breathing.
  • Smoking can cause damage to the alveoli, leading to respiratory problems.
  • The lungs contain millions of tiny alveoli where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged.
  • Patients with pneumonia may experience inflammation of the alveoli, making it difficult to breathe.
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