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

Examples of melanophore in a Sentence

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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'melanophore.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 23 Jul. 2024.

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

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