AskDefine | Define coil

Dictionary Definition



1 a structure consisting of something wound in a continuous series of loops; "a coil of rope" [syn: spiral, volute, whorl, helix]
2 a round shape formed by a series of concentric circles [syn: whorl, roll, curl, curlicue, ringlet, gyre, scroll]
3 a transformer that supplies high voltage to spark plugs in a gasoline engine
4 a contraceptive device placed inside a woman's womb
5 tubing that is wound in a spiral
6 reactor consisting of a spiral of insulated wire that introduces inductance into a circuit


1 to wind or move in a spiral course; "the muscles and nerves of his fine drawn body were coiling for action"; "black smoke coiling up into the sky"; "the young people gyrated on the dance floor" [syn: gyrate, spiral]
2 make without a potter's wheel; "This famous potter hand-builds all of her vessels" [syn: handbuild, hand-build]
3 wind around something in coils or loops [syn: loop, curl] [ant: uncoil]

User Contributed Dictionary




From coillir (French: cueillir), from colligere.


  1. Something wound in the form of a helix or spiral.
  2. Common name for any intra-uterine contraceptive device (Abbreviation: IUD)—the first IUDs were coil-shaped.
  3. (electrical) A coil of electrically conductive wire through which electricity can flow.


something wound
  • Arabic: (milaff) , (wašīʕa)
  • Finnish: kierukka, vyyhti, kela
  • German: Spirale , Wickel
  • Spanish: espiral, hélice
intra-uterine contraceptive device
  • Finnish: kierukka
  • German: Spirale
  • Spanish: DIU
  • Czech: cívka
  • Finnish: käämi, kela
  • French: bobine
  • German: Spule
  • Italian: bobina
  • Slovene: tuljava
  • Spanish: bobina


  1. To wind or reel e.g. a wire or rope into regular rings, often around a centerpiece.
    A simple transformer can be made by coiling two pieces of insulated copper wire around an iron heart.
  2. To wind into loops (roughly) around a common center.
    The sailor coiled the free end of the hawser on the pier.


to wind into regular rings
  • Finnish: kiertää, keriä, käämiä
to wind into loops
  • Finnish: keriä, vyyhtiä



  • lang=ga|[kɛlʲ]


Extensive Definition

A coil is a series of loops. A coiled coil is a structure where the coil itself is in turn also looping.

General applications

A coil is made up of materials, usually rigid, which can be fashioned into a spiral or helical shape. Flexible materials like wire, rope, hose, cable or paper can also be coiled into empty loops, or wound around a central drum or spindle.
Some common applications of coils include:

Electromagnetic coils

An electromagnetic coil (or simply a "coil") is formed when a conductor (usually a solid copper wire) is wound around a core or form to create an inductor or electromagnet. One loop of wire is usually referred to as a turn, and a coil consists of one or more turns. For use in an electronic circuit, electrical connection terminals called taps are often connected to a coil. Coils are often coated with varnish and/or wrapped with insulating tape to provide additional insulation and secure them in place. A completed coil assembly with taps etc. is often called a winding. A transformer is an electromagnetic device that has a primary winding and a secondary winding that transfers energy from one electrical circuit to another by magnetic coupling without moving parts. The term tickler coil usually refers to a third coil placed in relation to a primary coil and secondary coil. A coil tap is a wiring feature found on some electrical transformers, inductors and coil pickups, all of which are sets of wire coils. The coil tap(s) are points in a wire coil where a conductive patch has been exposed (usually on a loop of wire that extends out of the main coil body). As self induction is larger for larger coil diameter the current in a thick wire tries to flow on the inside. The ideal use of copper is achieved by foils. Sometimes this means that a spiral is a better alternative. Multilayer coils have the problem of interlayer capacitance, so when multiple layers are needed the shape needs to be radically changed to a short coil with many layers so that the voltage between consecutive layers is smaller (making them more spiral like).


The inductance of single-layer coils can be calculated to a reasonable degree of accuracy with the simplified formula
\mathrm= \frac
where µH (microhenries) are units of inductance, R is the coil radius (measured in inches to the center of the conductor), N is the number of turns, and L is the length of the coil in inches. The online Coil Inductance Calculator calculates the inductance of any coil using this formula. Higher accuracy estimates of coil inductance require calculations of considerably greater complexity. A layperson's translation is:
\, Inductance^ = (radius^2*number of turns^2)/(9*radius + 10*length)
In calculating the distances, one centimeter is equal to 0.393700787 inches and one inch is equal to 2.54 centimeters. The inductance formula uses inches. The relationship between the radius and the circumference of a coil is \, r = c /2 \pi, with r as the radius, c as the circumference, and π (the Greek letter pi) as the constant 3.141. The circumference of a coil can be calculated by c = \pi \cdot d , with d as the diameter of the coil and π as 3.141.

Coil examples

Some common electromagnetic coils include:
Other applications of coils exist in the field of electromagnetic devices. A coilgun is a type of cannon that uses a series of electromagnetic coils to accelerate a magnetic shell to very high velocities. The filament of an incandescent light bulb has usually the shape of a coiled coil, in order to fit the long filament in a small space.
  • Querfurth, William, "Coil winding; a description of coil winding procedures, winding machines and associated equipment for the electronic industry" (2d ed.). Chicago, G. Stevens Mfg. Co., 1958.
  • Weymouth, F. Marten, "''Drum armatures and commutators (theory and practice) : a complete treatise on the theory and construction of drum winding, and of commutators for closed-coil armatures, together with a full résumé of some of the principal points involved in their design; and an exposition of armature reactions and sparking". London, "The Electrician" Printing and Publishing Co., 1893.
  • "Coil winding proceedings". International Coil Winding Association.
  • Chandler, R. H., "Coil coating review, 1970-76". Braintree, R. H. Chandler Ltd, 1977.
  • R. Clarke, "Producing wound components''"., 2005 October 9.

Chemistry, biology and medicine

A chemistry coil is a tube of spiral form, used commonly to cool originating steam of the distillation and thus to condense them in liquid form. In the study of how molecules interact with each other, there are a few specific references to organic coils. During self-assembly, organic elements organize to form this structural pattern. Molecular self-assembly assembles the molecules, without guidance or management from an outside source, into these shapes.
Examples of these structural patterns include:
As an acronym, COIL denotes the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser.
In medicine, the Guglielmi Detachable Coil is a platinum coil commonly used in intracranial non-invasive surgery, for the occlusion of brain aneurysms.

In Ceramics (Fine Arts)

Coiling has been used to shape clay into useful beautiful vessels for many of thousands of years. It ranges from Africa to Greece and from China to New Mexico. They have used this method in a variety of ways. Using the coiling technique, it is possible to build thicker or taller walled vessels, which may not have been possible using earlier methods. The technique lets you control the walls as you build them up and allows you to build on top of the walls to make the vessel look bigger and bulge outward or narrow inward with less danger of collapsing. There are many different ways you can build ceramic objects using the coiling technique.
  1. Squeezing the clay into a coil or rolling between your hands are two different was to make coils. Using these techniques, it may prove very difficult to make a smooth preform due to the uneven pressure applied by your hands and fingers.
  2. When rolling with your hands, use a smooth surface. By spreading your hands (to apply even pressure), gently roll the clay back and forth until you think the preform is of the right thickness.
  3. The roll should be a little thicker than a pencil or pen. Now stack the coils on top of each other.
  4. Now, for strength, force the clay together as hard as you can on the inside of the piece without messing the clay up. Use your fingers and scrape the top coil onto the coil underneath.
  5. While smoothing the inside of the piece hold your other hand on the outside so you don’t damage what you have already done.
  6. If you want a top level, gently turn your piece over and lightly tap it on a smooth surface.
  7. Let it dry.
  8. Large flat pieces of clay are rolled out with a rolling pin. The slabs are cut for the base and walls and are attached together.
  9. Slabs work goes fast but lots of care must be given to make sure that the seams won’t crack, break or pull apart during the drying process.

External links

  • For the definition of Coil and words related to it, see Wiktionary.
coil in Danish: Spole
coil in German: Spule
coil in French: Bobine (électricité)
coil in Italian: Bobina
coil in Lithuanian: Ritė
coil in Japanese: 巻線
coil in Portuguese: Bobina

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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