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lyt·​ic ˈli-tik How to pronounce lytic (audio)
: of or relating to lysis or a lysin
also : productive of or effecting lysis (as of cells)
lytically adverb


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adjective suffix

: of, relating to, or effecting (such) decomposition

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
The genes commandeer the host, using it to manufacture new viruses that eventually burst out of the cell – this is the lytic cycle. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 5 Jan. 2011 Working together as a phage cocktail, lytic phages can target and destroy superbugs. B David Zarley, The Verge, 5 July 2019 Additionally, phages can cause different types of infections, typically either lytic or lysogenic. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 1 Feb. 2018

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

Word History



Greek lytikos able to loose, from lyein

Adjective suffix

Greek lytikos

First Known Use


1889, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lytic was in 1889

Dictionary Entries Near lytic

Cite this Entry

“Lytic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


lyt·​ic ˈlit-ik How to pronounce lytic (audio)
: of or relating to lysis or a lysin
also : productive of or effecting lysis (as of cells)
lytic viruses
lytic action on cells
lytically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on lytic

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