ecosystem

noun
eco·​sys·​tem | \ ˈē-kō-ˌsi-stəm How to pronounce ecosystem (audio) , ˈe-kō- \
plural ecosystems

Definition of ecosystem

1 : the complex of a community of organisms and its environment functioning as an ecological unit That influx of fresh water alters the ocean's salinity near the seafloor, a factor that influences the makeup of the ecosystems in those places.— Sid Perkins Global warming, if it proceeds as many scientists predict, threatens to undo decades of conservation work and could mean the destruction of the monarch butterfly, the edelweiss, the polar bear and innumerable other species living in fragile ecosystems, an emerging body of scientific evidence suggests.— William K. Stevens
2 : something (such as a network of businesses) considered to resemble an ecological ecosystem especially because of its complex interdependent parts Newspaper layoffs have ripple effects for the entire local news ecosystem because, as the Congressional Research Service noted, television, radio and online outlets often "piggyback on reporting done by much larger newspaper staffs."— David Sirota Lots of Walmart customers are underserved by banks and other financial institutions, [Daniel] Eckert says; the company's experiments with finance-related products and services help customers "not only save money but also have access to a financial ecosystem they were crowded out from."— Rob Walker

Other Words from ecosystem

ecosystemic \ ˌē-​kō-​si-​ˈste-​mik How to pronounce ecosystem (audio) , ˌe-​kō-​ \ adjective
The Amazon invariably evokes superlatives and often hyperbole. Stock images such as river dimensions and biotic variety are now joined with notions of forest biomass and ecosystemic complexity. — Kent Mathewson The women of Sex and the City occasionally argued, sure, but their ecosystemic purpose—to be there for their friends as they date and search and marry—was always extremely clear. — Megan Garber

The Environment of Ecosystem

For the now-ubiquitous prefix eco-, we can thank the great German zoologist Ernst Haeckel, who in 1866 coined the term oekologie from the Greek oikos, meaning “home, place to live.” Haeckel was thinking primarily of the “homes” of animals, but by the time the word translated into English in 1875 (initially spelled “oecology”), its meaning had broadened to embrace plant habitats as well. The related term ecosystem was proposed by the British botanist Arthur Tansley, 60 years after one of his own professors first translated Haeckel’s oekologie. It may have been ecosystem, which treats eco- as a prefix to a standard English word, that gave English speakers permission to do the same in coining a host of other terms: ecosphere, ecotour, eco-friendly, and all the rest. Meanwhile, ecosystem itself has been appropriated freely in all kinds of contexts well removed from the natural environment: the “app ecosystem,” the “education ecosystem,” the “startup ecosystem,” the “pop-culture ecosystem,” the “mobile ecosystem,” the “biking ecosystem,” and so forth.

Examples of ecosystem in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Working together, Americans must support as robust an innovation ecosystem as possible and hope that when the next medical crises arise, for them personally or society, biopharma will have treatments within reach. Standish Fleming, STAT, 7 Aug. 2022 From fitness wearables and tablets to streaming devices and its Alexa digital assistant, Amazon has advanced a lineup of devices under an ecosystem that ties consumers more tightly to the company and its services. Hamza Shaban, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2022 The top-earning female athlete has been a tennis player in every year since Forbes started tracking the data in 1990, reinforcing an ecosystem that undervalues women in team sports, Engelbert said. Los Angeles Times, 5 Aug. 2022 Good luck in building an API ecosystem and community. Rakshith Rao, Forbes, 4 Aug. 2022 Still, Ondieki continues creating content on the app while using his platform to bring transparency and nurture an ecosystem of diverse content creators with tips to help them become successful. Destiny S. Cook, ajc, 28 July 2022 Frameworks provide a platform that performs common functions like logging and authentication shared across an app ecosystem. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 27 July 2022 Rather than seeking selfies on the ice, visitors just may come looking for the elusive ice dragon and walk away with an understanding of an incredibly unique ecosystem, Madríz said. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 22 July 2022 Such opossum behaviors have become meme-ified in an ecosystem of delightful opossum content. Elaine Godfrey, The Atlantic, 20 July 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of ecosystem

1935, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for ecosystem

Time Traveler

The first known use of ecosystem was in 1935

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Dictionary Entries Near ecosystem

ecostate

ecosystem

ecotage

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Statistics for ecosystem

Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ecosystem.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ecosystem. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for ecosystem

ecosystem

noun
eco·​sys·​tem | \ ˈē-kō-ˌsi-stəm How to pronounce ecosystem (audio) , ˈe- \

Kids Definition of ecosystem

: the whole group of living and nonliving things that make up an environment and affect each other

ecosystem

noun
eco·​sys·​tem | \ -ˌsis-təm How to pronounce ecosystem (audio) \

Medical Definition of ecosystem

: the complex of a community and its environment functioning as an ecological unit in nature

More from Merriam-Webster on ecosystem

Nglish: Translation of ecosystem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ecosystem for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ecosystem

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