filter feeder


Definition of 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

Examples of filter feeder in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Brachiopods are filter feeders, sucking in water and catching food particles caught in the stream. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Incredible fossil find is the oldest known parasite," 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, "Fifty Things We’ve Learned About the Earth Since the First Earth Day," 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, "Australia's raging fires will create big problems for fresh drinking water," 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, "Can tens of thousands of mussels help save the polluted Anacostia River?," 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, "Designing Floating Buildings With an Eye to the Marine Species Living Underneath," 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,, "7 nighttime things to do in Hawaii," 9 Oct. 2019 Some argue the first multicellular organism was probably a sedentary filter feeder, like a microscopic sponge. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "The world’s first animal was probably a carnivore," 30 Aug. 2019 According to the NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Laboratory, humpback whales are filter feeders, and survive off krill, plankton and small fish, such as anchovies — so capturing the sea lion was a complete mistake for the mammal. Claudia Harmata,, "Incredible Photo Captures Humpback Whale Almost Swallowing Up Sea Lion," 30 July 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of filter feeder

1928, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about filter feeder

Time Traveler for filter feeder

Time Traveler

The first known use of filter feeder was in 1928

See more words from the same year

Statistics for filter feeder

Last Updated

14 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Filter feeder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on filter feeder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with filter feeder

Comments on filter feeder

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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