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Sheets of tissue paper.
Connective tissue magnified 100x.


From Middle English tissu, from Old French tissu (woven), past participle of tistre (to weave), from Latin texere (to weave).



tissue (countable and uncountable, plural tissues)

  1. Thin, woven, gauze-like fabric.
    • 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, pages 65–66:
      Madame Legarde, the "glass of fashion and the nurse of form," (alias the most fashionable of milliners,) has comfortably assured me, "that my figure has great merit, and only requires cultivation:" this is to be done by tissues, brocades, and laces, which are now scattered round me in charming confusion.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, The China Governess: A Mystery, London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC, page 214:
      The face which emerged was not reassuring. It was blunt and grey, the nose springing thick and flat from high on the frontal bone of the forehead, whilst his eyes were narrow slits of dark in a tight bandage of tissue.
  2. A fine transparent silk material, used for veils, etc.; specifically, cloth interwoven with gold or silver threads, or embossed with figures.
    • 1697, Virgil, “The First Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 228, lines 915–916:
      A Robe of Tiſſue, ſtiff with golden Wire; / An upper Veſt, once Hellen’s rich Attire; [...]
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book V”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker []; [a]nd by Robert Boulter []; [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], →OCLC:
      In their glittering tissues bear emblazed / Holy memorials.
  3. A sheet of absorbent paper, especially one that is made to be used as tissue paper, toilet paper or a handkerchief.
  4. Absorbent paper as material.
  5. (biology) A group of cells (along with their extracellular matrix if any) that are similar in origin and function together to do a specific job.
    • 2014, Robert K. Bolger, Scott Korb, Gesturing Toward Reality: David Foster Wallace and Philosophy[1]:
      What they lack is outermost brain tissue that, at least in humans, prompts awareness and interpretation.
  6. Web; texture; complicated fabrication; connected series.
    a tissue of forgeries, or of lies
    • 1888, A. J. Balfour, The Religion of Humanity:
      unwilling to leave the dry bones of Agnosticism wholly unclothed with any living tissue of religious emotion
  7. (horse racing, slang) The scratch sheet or racing form.
    • 2016, Gerald Hammond, The Language of Horse Racing:
      Pricing the first show is a matter of the bookmaker's individual judgment, relying upon advice from all quarters, particularly the tissue; but very soon in the betting exchanges it becomes clear that the sole criterion for the fixing of a horse's price is demand.

Derived terms[edit]


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tissue (third-person singular simple present tissues, present participle tissuing, simple past and past participle tissued)

  1. To form tissue of; to interweave.



Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of tissu