AskDefine | Define plexus

Dictionary Definition

plexus n : a network of intersecting blood vessels or intersecting nerves or intersecting lymph vessels [syn: rete]

User Contributed Dictionary



Latin, from plex-, past participle stem of plectere ‘plait, interweave’.


[IPA]: /'plɛksəs/


plexus (plural plexus or plexuses)
  1. A network or interwoven mass, especially of nerves, blood vessels, or lymphatic vessels.
    • 1934: I have the sensation of being immersed in the very plexus of life, focal from whatever place, position or attitude I take my stance. — Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer


Extensive Definition

A plexus is a network. It has more specific meanings in multiple fields.


In biology it has multiple meanings.

Nervous system

In many animals the processes of neurons join together to form a plexus or nerve net.

In vertebrates

In vertebrates, a plexus is an area where nerves branch and rejoin, for example the brachial plexus made up of the spinal nerves which enter the arm and the solar plexus above the stomach.
Almost a hundred such plexuses have been named in the human body, but the four primary nerve plexuses are the cervical plexus, brachial plexus, lumbar plexus, and the sacral plexus.

In invertebrates

Plexuses is the characteristic form of nervous system in the coelenterates and persists with modifications in the flatworms. The nerves of the radially symmetric echinoderms also take this form, where a plexus underlies the ectoderm of these animals and deeper in the body other nerve cells form plexuses of limited extent.

Circulatory system

A plexus is also a network of blood vessels, with the choroid plexuses of the brain being the most commonly mentioned example. Choroid plexuses are very thin and vascular roof plates of the most anterior and most posterior cavities of the brain which expand into the interiors of the cavities. Other vascular plexuses are found elsewhere in the body.
plexus in German: Plexus (Medizin)
plexus in Spanish: Plexo
plexus in French: Plexus
plexus in Portuguese: Plexo

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

afferent neuron, arabesque, autonomic nervous system, axon, basketry, basketwork, brain, cancellation, central nervous system, cerebral cortex, craniosacral nervous system, cross-hatching, crossing-out, dendrite, effector organ, efferent neuron, filigree, fret, fretwork, ganglion, grate, grating, gray matter, grid, gridiron, grille, grillwork, hachure, hatching, interlacement, internuncial neuron, intertexture, intertwinement, lace, lacery, lacework, lacing, lattice, latticework, medullary sheath, mesh, meshes, meshwork, nerve, nerve trunk, nervous system, net, netting, network, neuron, peripheral nervous system, plexure, raddle, reticle, reticulation, reticule, reticulum, riddle, screen, screening, sensorium, sensory area, sensory cell, sieve, solar plexus, spinal cord, synapse, texture, thoracolumbar nervous system, tissue, tracery, trellis, trelliswork, wattle, weave, weaving, web, webbing, webwork, weft, white matter, wicker, wickerwork
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