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

  • n. The tangle of filaments that appears at the beginning of the prophase portion of meiosis or mitosis.
  • n. Any of these filaments.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The stage of the nucleus in karyokinesis, or mitosis, during which the chromatin assumes the form of a continuous or segmented thread.


German Spirem, from Greek speirēma, coil, from speirāsthai, to be coiled around, from speira, coil.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • Flemming, on the other hand, clung to his erroneous view that all the chromosomes are at first united into one long continu - ous thread, a “spireme,” which later breaks up into the separate chromosomes.



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