Science Word Wednesday: Syncytium

Nov 19, 2020
By Alec Chaves


(noun. /sin-SI-she-um/)

 What does it mean?

A syncytium is a collection of subcellular or cellular parts that work together in unison.  

An example of a functional syncytium is shown above. The muscle cells of the heart, called cardiomyocytes, are linked in such a way that allow them to contract and relax together. When the heart receives the signal to “beat,” all of the muscle cells can move at the same time in a coordinated effort.


The word syncytium is derived from Greek “syn” and “kytos.” Combined, they loosely translate to “together in a box.”

How do I use it in a sentence?

“The muscle cells of the heart form a functional syncytium as they work together to contract and relax, in unison, so that it can pump blood to the entire body.”

Fields of study in which this word is commonly used:





Edited by Emma Goldberg and Anna Wheless