echi·​no·​coc·​cus i-ˌkī-nə-ˈkä-kəs How to pronounce echinococcus (audio)
plural echinococci i-ˌkī-nə-ˈkäk-ˌ(s)ī How to pronounce echinococcus (audio)
: any of a genus (Echinococcus) of tapeworms that alternate a minute adult living as a commensal in the intestine of carnivores with a hydatid larva invading tissues especially of the liver of cattle, sheep, swine, and humans and acting as a dangerous pathogen

Examples of echinococcus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The increasing prevalence of echinococcus in Kyrgyzstan serves as a poignant example of how this parasite has embedded itself in the wake of the Soviet collapse. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 29 Apr. 2014 But about half of patients that receive treatment for an echinococcus illness do so within a few years of being infected. Korin Miller, SELF, 2 Aug. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'echinococcus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, genus name, from echino- echino- + -coccus -coccus

Note: The genus name was introduced by the Swedish-born German naturalist Karl Asmund Rudolphi (1771-1832) in "Beobachtungen über die Eingeweidewürmer," Archiv für Zoologie und Zootomie, herausgegeben von C.R.W. Wiedemann, Zweiten Bandes erstes Stück (1801), pp. 52-53. The name refers to the "wreath of hooks" (Hakenkranz) that terminates the worm's scolex.

First Known Use

1839, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of echinococcus was in 1839

Dictionary Entries Near echinococcus

Cite this Entry

“Echinococcus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


echi·​no·​coc·​cus -nə-ˈkäk-əs How to pronounce echinococcus (audio)
capitalized : a genus of tapeworms of the family Taeniidae (such as Echinococcus granulosus and E. multilocularis) that alternate a minute adult living as a harmless commensal in the intestine of dogs and other carnivores with a hydatid larva invading tissues especially of the liver of mammals (such as cattle, sheep, swine, and humans), and acting as a serious often fatal pathogen
plural echinococci -ˈkäk-ˌ(s)ī How to pronounce echinococcus (audio) -ˈkäk-(ˌ)(s)ē How to pronounce echinococcus (audio) : any tapeworm of the genus Echinococcus
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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