cni·​do·​cyst ˈnī-də-ˌsist How to pronounce cnidocyst (audio)
plural cnidocysts
: nematocyst
The stinging cells, or cnidocysts, of sea anemones, jellyfish and other cnidarians work like tiny harpoons when triggered by physical contact.Colin Barras

Word History


borrowed from German Cnidocyste, from Greek knī́dē "nettle, sea nettle" + German -o- -o- + -cyste -cyst — more at cnidarian

First Known Use

1888, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cnidocyst was in 1888

Dictionary Entries Near cnidocyst

Cite this Entry

“Cnidocyst.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!