from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Resembling glass, as in translucence or transparency; glassy.
  • n. Something that is translucent or transparent.
  • n. Variant of hyalin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Glassy, transparent; amorphous.
  • n. Anything glassy, translucent or transparent; the sea or sky.
  • n. A clear translucent substance in tissues.
  • n. The main constituent of the walls of hydatid cysts; a nitrogenous body, which, by decomposition, yields a dextrogyrate sugar, susceptible to alcoholic fermentation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Glassy; resembling glass; consisting of glass; transparent, like crystal.
  • n. A poetic term for the sea or the atmosphere.
  • n. The pellucid substance, present in cells in process of development, from which, according to some embryologists, the cell nucleus originates.
  • n. The main constituent of the walls of hydatid cysts; a nitrogenous body, which, by decomposition, yields a dextrogyrate sugar, susceptible of alcoholic fermentation.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Glassy; resembling glass; consisting of glass; crystalline; transparent: as, the hyaline or crystalline lens of the eye.
  • n. A glassy or transparent substance or surface.
  • n. Specifically— The hyaloid membrane of the eye. See hyaloid.
  • n. Hyaline cartilage. See cartilage.
  • n. A pellucid substance which determines the spontaneous division of cells or originates cell-nuclei; hyaloplasm.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. resembling glass in transparency or translucency
  • n. a glassy translucent substance that occurs in hyaline cartilage or in certain skin conditions


Late Latin hyalinus, from Greek hualinos, of glass, from hualos, glass.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin hyalinus, from late Ancient Greek ύαλινος, from ύαλος ("glass"). (Wiktionary)


  • At the time, the malady was called hyaline membrane disease because glassy membranes were found in autopsies of infants who had gasped for breath and quickly died.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Respiratory distress syndrome also known as hyaline membrane disease occurs when the underdeveloped lungs of the premature infant cannot expand and contract as they should with each inspiration.

    Mothering Twins

  • Two other daughters preceding Dominique died in infancy from a lung disease once common in cesarean births known as hyaline membrane disease.

    Dominick Dunne on His Daughter's Murder

  • I have no idea if that particular review is really where I first came encountered "hyaline", or if there's some conspiratorial agreement among critics that they should always describe Sontag's writing that way.

    Making Light: Open thread 136

  • Also called RDS or hyaline membrane disease, respiratory distress syndrome is a condition of premature infant lungs due to insufficient sufactant (see surfactant).


  • Hyaline, in the context of the book, refers to the glassy surface of the ocean, i.e., "the lovely glistening hyaline waters."

    Making Light: Open thread 136

  • I've met catenate, hyaline, and fecundate, just not often.

    Making Light: Open thread 136

  • Hmm... a bit of Googling produces this short book review by Charles Solomon, which has the line: "As an essayist, Didion lacks the hyaline profundity of Susan Sontag or the classical erudition of Marguerite Yourcenar ..."

    Making Light: Open thread 136

  • Suffering from acute hyaline membrane disease, the infant named after the first member of the JFK family to arrive in America was immediately placed in an incubator and taken to the postnatal intensive care unit.

    American Legacy

  • A third child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, was born August 7, 1963; his death of hyaline membrane disease on August 9, caused intense grief for both parents.

    Harvard University Press Publicity Blog :


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  • "The cells that line the alveoli were damaged, if they survived the virus itself. Pink glassy membranes, called hyaline membranes, formed on the insides of the alveoli. Once these membranes formed, surfactant—a slippery, soap-like protein that reduces surface tension and eases the transfer of oxygen into red blood cells—disappeared from the alveoli. More blood flooded the lungs..."
    —John M. Barry, The Great Influenza (NY: Penguin Books, 2004), 249

    February 16, 2009