(1) The cell giving rise to daughter cells by cell division.
(2) Progenitor cell: the precursor or source of other cells.
In cell division, a parent cell is the cell that divides to give rise to two daughter cells. In mitosis, the two daughter cells contain the same genetic content as the parent cell. In meiosis, the daughter cells have different genetic content and half the number of chromosomes of the parent cell.
Word origin: parent » Latin parēns, parent-, from past active participle of parere, to give birth + cell.
Synonym: mother cell, brood cell, metrocyte.
See also: cell division.