ETYM New Lat. ovarium, from Latin ovum egg: cf. French ovaire. Related to Oval.
1. One of usually two organs that produce ova and (in vertebrates) secrete estrogen and progesterone.
2. The organ that bears the ovules of a flower.
Female egg-producing organ.
In female animals, the organ that generates the ovum. In humans, the ovaries are two whitish rounded bodies about 25 mm/1 in by 35 mm/1.5 in, located in the lower abdomen to either side of the uterus. Every month, from puberty to the onset of the menopause, an ovum is released from the ovary. This is called ovulation, and forms part of the menstrual cycle. In botany, an ovary is the expanded basal portion of the carpel of flowering plants, containing one or more ovules. It is hollow with a thick wall to protect the ovules. Following fertilization of the ovum, it develops into the fruit wall or pericarp.
The ovaries of female animals secrete the hormones responsible for the secondary sexual characteristics of the female, such as smooth, hairless facial skin and enlarged breasts. An ovary in a half-grown human fetus contains 5 million eggs, and so the unborn baby already possesses the female genetic information for the next generation.
In botany, the relative position of the ovary to the other floral parts is often a distinguishing character in classification; it may be either inferior or superior, depending on whether the petals and sepals are inserted above or below.