me·​la·​no·​phore mə-ˈla-nə-ˌfȯr How to pronounce melanophore (audio)
plural melanophores
: a melanin-containing chromatophore cell especially of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles that is similar to a mammalian melanocyte
Fishes rely on melanins. These compounds, ranging in color from brown to black, are produced in tiny granules called melanosomes; these granules move around within large branching cells called melanophores.Joe Levine

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web This organ contains color-changing cells such as melanophores, which either expand or contract according to the background the fish is trying to match, Burgess says. National Geographic, 13 Aug. 2016 In this period, glass eels lack color-producing cells such as chromatophores and melanophores, says George Burgess, an ichthyologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Liz Langley, National Geographic, 25 Mar. 2017

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

Word History


borrowed from German Melanophor, from melano- melano- + -phor -phore

First Known Use

1903, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of melanophore was in 1903

Dictionary Entries Near melanophore

Cite this Entry

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

Medical Definition


me·​la·​no·​phore mə-ˈlan-ə-ˌfō(ə)r How to pronounce melanophore (audio) ˈmel-ə-nə- How to pronounce melanophore (audio)
: a melanin-containing chromatophore especially of fishes, amphibians, and reptiles that is similar to a mammalian melanocyte
melanophoric adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on melanophore

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Challenging Standardized Test Words, Vol. 2

  • a pencil broken in half on top of a test answer sheet
  • The business’s new computer system proved not to be a panacea.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?