noun, plural lens·es.

  1. a piece of transparent substance, usually glass, having two opposite surfaces either both curved or one curved and one plane, used in an optical device in changing the convergence of light rays, as for magnification, or in correcting defects of vision.
  2. a combination of such pieces.
  3. some analogous device, as for affecting sound waves, electromagnetic radiation, or streams of electrons.
  4. Anatomy. crystalline lens.
  5. Geology. a body of rock or ore that is thick in the middle and thinner toward the edges, similar in shape to a biconvex lens.

verb (used with object)

  1. Movies. to film (a motion picture).


  1. a piece of glass or other transparent material, used to converge or diverge transmitted light and form optical images
  2. Also called: compound lens a combination of such lenses for forming images or concentrating a beam of light
  3. a device that diverges or converges a beam of electromagnetic radiation, sound, or particlesSee electron lens
  4. anatomy See crystalline lens


  1. an industrial town in N France, in the Pas de Calais department; badly damaged in both World Wars. Pop: 36 206 (1999)

n.1690s, “glass to regulate light rays,” from Latin lens (genitive lentis) “lentil,” on analogy of the double-convex shape. See lentil. Of the eye from 1719. In the vernacular of the photographer, anyone crowding to the front of a group, staring into the lens, or otherwise attracting attention to himself is known as a “lens louse.” [“American Photography,” vol. 40, 1946; the term dates from 1915] n. pl. lens•es

  1. A ground or molded piece of glass, plastic, or other transparent material with opposite surfaces either or both of which are curved, by means of which light rays are refracted so that they converge or diverge to form an image.
  2. A transparent, biconvex body of the eye between the iris and the vitreous humor that focuses light rays entering through the pupil to form an image on the retina.

  1. A transparent structure behind the iris of the eye that focuses light entering the eye on the retina.
    1. A piece of glass or plastic shaped so as to focus or spread light rays that pass through it, often for the purpose of forming an image.
    2. A combination of two or more such lenses, as in a camera or telescope. Also called compound lens
  2. A device that causes radiation to converge or diverge by an action analogous to that of an optical lens. The system of electric fields used to focus electron beams in electron microscopes is an example of a lens.

A piece of transparent material, such as glass, that forms an image from the rays of light passing through it. (See focal length, refraction, and telescope.) A clear, almost spherical structure located just behind the pupil of the eye. The lens focuses waves of light on the retina.

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