AskDefine | Define lung

Dictionary Definition

lung n : either of two saclike respiratory organs in the chest of vertebrates; serves to remove carbon dioxide and provide oxygen to the blood

User Contributed Dictionary



  • lŭng, /lʌŋ/, /lVN/
  • Rhymes: -ʌŋ


  1. A biological organ that extracts oxygen from the air.



organ that extracts oxygen from the air





  1. long
    asta e o stradă foarte lungă! - this is a really long street!





Extensive Definition

Human lungs are located in two cavities on either side of the heart. Though similar in appearance, the two are not identical. Both are separated into lobes, with three lobes on the right and two on the left. The lobes are further divided into lobules, hexagonal divisions of the lungs that are the smallest subdivision visible to the naked eye. The connective tissue that divides lobules is often blackened in smokers and city dwellers. The medial border of the right lung is nearly vertical, while the left lung contains a cardiac notch. The cardiac notch is a concave impression molded to accommodate the shape of the heart. Lungs are to a certain extent 'overbuilt' and have a tremendous reserve volume as compared to the oxygen exchange requirements when at rest. This is the reason that individuals can smoke for years without having a noticeable decrease in lung function while still or moving slowly; in situations like these only a small portion of the lungs are actually perfused with blood for gas exchange. As oxygen requirements increase due to exercise, a greater volume of the lungs is perfused, allowing the body to match its CO2/O2 exchange requirements.
The environment of the lung is very moist, which makes it hospitable for bacteria. Many respiratory illnesses are the result of bacterial or viral infection of the lungs.

Avian lungs

Avian lungs do not have alveoli, as mammalian lungs do, but instead contain millions of tiny passages known as para-bronchi, connected at both ends by the dorsobronchi and that the airflow through the avian lung always travels in the same direction - posterior to anterior. This is in contrast to the mammalian system, in which the direction of airflow in the lung is tidal, reversing between inhalation and exhalation. By utilizing a unidirectional flow of air, avian lungs are able to extract a greater concentration of oxygen from inhaled air. Birds are thus equipped to fly at altitudes at which mammals would succumb to hypoxia, and this also allows them to sustain a higher metabolic rate than an equivalent weight mammal. Because of the complexity of the system, misunderstanding is common and it is incorrectly believed that that it takes two breathing cycles for air to pass entirely through a bird's respiratory system. A bird's lungs do not store air in either of the sacs between respiration cycles, air moves continuously from the posterior to anterior air sacs throughout respiration. This type of lung construction is called circulatory lungs as distinct from the bellows lung possessed by most other animals.

Reptilian lungs

Reptilian lungs are typically ventilated by a combination of expansion and contraction of the ribs via axial muscles and buccal pumping. Crocodilians also rely on the hepatic piston method, in which the liver is pulled back by a muscle anchored to the pubic bone (part of the pelvis), which in turn pulls the bottom of the lungs backward, expanding them.

Amphibian lungs

The lungs of most frogs and other amphibians are simple balloon-like structures, with gas exchange limited to the outer surface area of the lung. This is not a very efficient arrangement, but amphibians have low metabolic demands and also frequently supplement their oxygen supply by diffusion across the moist outer skin of their bodies. Unlike mammals, which use a breathing system driven by negative pressure, amphibians employ positive pressure. The majority of salamander species are lungless salamanders which conduct respiration through their skin and the tissues lining their mouth. The only other known lungless tetrapods are also amphibians — the Bornean Flat-headed Frog (Barbourula kalimantanensis) and Atretochoana eiselti, a caecilian.

Invertebrate lungs

Some invertebrates have "lungs" that serve a similar respiratory purpose, but are not evolutionarily related to, vertebrate lungs. Some arachnids have structures called "book lungs" used for atmospheric gas exchange. The Coconut crab uses structures called branchiostegal lungs to breathe air and indeed will drown in water, hence it breathes on land and holds its breath underwater. The Pulmonata are an order of snails and slugs that have developed "lungs".


The lungs of today's terrestrial vertebrates and the gas bladders of today's fish have evolved from simple sacs (outpocketings) of the esophagus that allowed the organism to gulp air under oxygen-poor conditions. Thus the lungs of vertebrates are homologous to the gas bladders of fish (but not to their gills). This is reflected by the fact that the lungs of a fetus also develop from an outpocketing of the esophagus and in the case of gas bladders, this connection to the gut continues to exist as the pneumatic duct in more "primitive" teleosts, and is lost in the higher orders. (This is an instance of correlation between ontogeny and phylogeny.) There are currently no known animals which have both a gas bladder and lungs.

See also


lung in Afrikaans: Long
lung in Arabic: رئة
lung in Guarani: Ñe'ãvevúi
lung in Aymara: Chuyma
lung in Azerbaijani: Ağciyər
lung in Bengali: ফুসফুস
lung in Min Nan: Hì (khì-koan)
lung in Bosnian: Pluća
lung in Bulgarian: Бял дроб
lung in Catalan: Pulmó
lung in Chuvash: Ӳпке
lung in Czech: Plíce
lung in Welsh: Ysgyfant
lung in Danish: Lunge
lung in German: Lunge
lung in Dhivehi: ފުއްޕާމޭ
lung in Spanish: Pulmón
lung in Esperanto: Pulmo
lung in Basque: Birika
lung in French: Poumon
lung in Galician: Pulmón
lung in Korean: 허파
lung in Croatian: Pluća
lung in Ido: Pulmono
lung in Indonesian: Paru-paru
lung in Icelandic: Lunga
lung in Italian: Polmone
lung in Hebrew: ריאה
lung in Javanese: Paru-paru
lung in Georgian: ფილტვები
lung in Kurdish: Pişik
lung in Latin: Pulmo
lung in Lithuanian: Plautis
lung in Lingala: Limpúlúlú
lung in Hungarian: Tüdő
lung in Macedonian: Бел дроб
lung in Malayalam: ശ്വാസകോശം
lung in Maltese: Pulmun
lung in Malay (macrolanguage): Paru-paru
lung in Dutch: Long (orgaan)
lung in Newari: लुङ
lung in Japanese: 肺
lung in Norwegian: Lunge
lung in Norwegian Nynorsk: Lunge
lung in Occitan (post 1500): Palmon
lung in Uzbek: Oʻpka
lung in Pangasinan: Bala
lung in Pushto: سږي
lung in Polish: Płuco
lung in Portuguese: Pulmão humano
lung in Romanian: Pulmon
lung in Quechua: Surq'an
lung in Russian: Лёгкие
lung in Albanian: Mushkëria
lung in Sicilian: Purmuna
lung in Simple English: Lung
lung in Slovak: Pľúca
lung in Slovenian: Pljuča
lung in Serbian: Плућа
lung in Finnish: Keuhkot
lung in Swedish: Lunga
lung in Tagalog: Baga (anatomiya)
lung in Tamil: நுரையீரல்
lung in Telugu: ఊపిరితిత్తులు
lung in Thai: ปอด
lung in Vietnamese: Phổi
lung in Turkish: Akciğer
lung in Ukrainian: Легені
lung in Võro: Täü
lung in Yiddish: לונג
lung in Chinese: 肺

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abdomen, anus, appendix, bellows, blind gut, bowels, brain, cecum, colon, ctenidia, duodenum, endocardium, entrails, foregut, giblets, gills, gizzard, guts, heart, hindgut, innards, inner mechanism, insides, internals, intestine, inwards, jejunum, kidney, kishkes, large intestine, lights, liver, liver and lights, lungs, midgut, perineum, pump, pylorus, rectum, small intestine, spleen, stomach, ticker, tripes, vermiform appendix, viscera, vitals, works
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