geo·​tax·​is | \ ˌjē-ō-ˈtak-səs How to pronounce geotaxis (audio) \

Definition of geotaxis

: a taxis in which the force of gravity is the directive factor

First Known Use of geotaxis

1899, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for geotaxis

borrowed from German Geotaxis, from geo- geo- + -taxis -taxis

Note: The term was introduced by the German botanist Frank Schwarz (1857-1928) in "Der Einfluss der Schwerkraft auf die Bewegungsrichtung von Chlamidomonas und Euglena," Berichte der Deutschen Botanischen Gesellschaft, vol. 2 (1884), pp. 51-72. Schwarz thus attempted to distinguish between geotropism and geotaxis: "Bezeichnet man allgemein die Auslösung von Bewegungs- und Wachsthumsvorgänge durch die Schwerkraft als Geotropismus, so könnte man wohl auch diese Erscheinung als eine geotropische bezeichnen. Um jedoch nicht Ungleichartiges mit demselben Namen zu belegen, schlage ich vor, analog wie man die Orientirung der Schwärmsporen durch das Licht mit Phototaxis bezeichnet, die von mir beschriebene Orientirung von Euglena und Chlamidomonas durch die Schwerkraft als Geotaxis zu bezeichnen. Ich glaube, dass hierdurch eine kurze und natürliche Benennung der in Frage stehenden Erscheinung gewonnen ist" (p. 71). ("If one characterizes the initiation of movement and growth processes by gravity in general as geotropism, then one could also say that this phenomenon is geotropic. However, in order to not impose the same name on something dissimilar, I suggest that the gravitational orientation of Euglena and Chladmidomonas I have described be called geotaxis, by analogy with the designation of zoospore orientation through light as phototaxis. I believe that hereby we acquire a brief and natural name for the phenomenon in question.")

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about geotaxis

Time Traveler for geotaxis

Time Traveler

The first known use of geotaxis was in 1899

See more words from the same year

Statistics for geotaxis

Cite this Entry

“Geotaxis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for geotaxis


geo·​tax·​is | \ -ˈtak-səs How to pronounce geotaxis (audio) \
plural geotaxes\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce geotaxes (audio) \

Medical Definition of geotaxis

: a taxis in which the force of gravity is the directive factor

More from Merriam-Webster on geotaxis Encyclopedia article about geotaxis

Comments on geotaxis

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!