filter feeder


: an animal (such as a clam or baleen whale) that obtains its food by filtering organic matter or minute organisms from a current of water that passes through some part of its system

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The ancient shark, described on March 19 in the journal Science, was most likely a slow-moving filter feeder that looked like a cross between a standard shark and a manta ray. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Mar. 2021 Papa paddlefish is a filter feeder with a long, sensitive nose that enjoys large, slow-moving rivers. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 July 2020 Brachiopods are filter feeders, sucking in water and catching food particles caught in the stream. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, 2 June 2020 Tiny deep ocean filter feeders have been found with microplastics in their bodies, as have fish, birds, humans and other animals. Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Apr. 2020 Detritus doesn’t necessarily have to be toxic to cause problems, as tiny particles can clog the gills of fish and the foraging apparatus of filter feeders such as mussels, sponges, and corals. National Geographic, 10 Jan. 2020 Bogantes is a natural resources specialist with the Anacostia Watershed Society and recognized the potential of filter feeders to clean the river. Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post, 23 Oct. 2019 The greater variety of seaweeds, barnacles, and other filter feeders will, in turn, attract larger creatures, like crabs and fish, creating a vibrant ecosystem. Lindsey J. Smith, Smithsonian, 7 Oct. 2019 Visitors are then able to look down as the filter feeders swoop effortlessly through the water, sucking up the plankton drawn to the light. Valerie Stimac,, 9 Oct. 2019 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1928, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of filter feeder was in 1928

Dictionary Entries Near filter feeder

Cite this Entry

“Filter feeder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

filter feeder


: an animal (as a clam or baleen whale) that obtains its food by filtering food particles or tiny living things from water
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