decomposer

noun
de·​com·​pos·​er | \ ˌdē-kəm-ˈpō-zər How to pronounce decomposer (audio) \

Definition of decomposer

: any of various organisms (such as many bacteria and fungi) that return constituents of organic substances to ecological cycles by feeding on and breaking down dead protoplasm — compare consumer, producer sense 4

Examples of decomposer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web As primary decomposers, mushrooms break down the organic matter of dead plants and animals. Popular Science, "Twelve powerful images to remind us how weird and wild the world is," 13 May 2020 Scavengers scavenge, predators predate, decomposers decompose. New York Times, "Respect the Hustle of Soda Can Raccoon and Murder Cat," 22 Nov. 2019 But these decomposers just want the tasty packages of dead tissues and biominerals all to themselves. Anna K. Behrensmeyer, Smithsonian, "How Do Fossils Form?," 8 June 2019 Origins of a killer There are hundreds of species of chytrid fungi, and most of them are unobtrusive decomposers. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "Amphibian 'apocalypse' caused by most destructive pathogen ever," 28 Mar. 2019 Atmospheric nitrogen gets churned through a series of chemical states by a diverse assortment of bacteria, plants and decomposers like fungi performing different reactions. Quanta Magazine, "Should Evolution Treat Our Microbes as Part of Us?," 20 Nov. 2018 Just as bodies are broken down in death by decomposers, every bit of them transformed into the matter that nourishes new life, so is the creative process a constant cycle. NBC News, "7 pep talks to get you through the work week," 2 Apr. 2018 But snags are actually host to complex communities of decomposers — fungi, bacteria, bugs. Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post, "What Frodo the Hobbit can teach scientists about protecting the planet," 10 July 2017 Greens provide the fuel for heating up the pile, and bacteria, which is the best decomposer, thrives in temperatures 122 degrees to 131 degrees. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Composting can enrich your garden soil," 11 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decomposer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of decomposer

1959, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about decomposer

Time Traveler for decomposer

Time Traveler

The first known use of decomposer was in 1959

See more words from the same year

Statistics for decomposer

Cite this Entry

“Decomposer.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decomposer. Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for decomposer

decomposer

noun
de·​com·​pos·​er | \ ˌdē-kəm-ˈpō-zər How to pronounce decomposer (audio) \

Kids Definition of decomposer

: a living thing (as a bacterium, fungus, or insect) that feeds on and breaks down plant and animal matter into simpler parts or substances

decomposer

noun
de·​com·​pos·​er | \ ˌdē-kəm-ˈpō-zər How to pronounce decomposer (audio) \

Medical Definition of decomposer

: any of various organisms (as many bacteria and fungi) that return constituents of organic substances to ecological cycles by feeding on and breaking down dead protoplasm

More from Merriam-Webster on decomposer

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about decomposer

Comments on decomposer

What made you want to look up decomposer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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