op·​por·​tu·​nis·​tic | \ˌä-pər-tü-ˈni-stik, -tyü-\

Definition of opportunistic 

: taking advantage of opportunities as they arise: such as

a : exploiting opportunities with little regard to principle (see principle sense 1) or consequences a politician considered opportunistic an opportunistic investment

b : feeding on whatever food is available opportunistic feeders opportunistic bears

c : being or caused by a usually harmless microorganism that can become pathogenic when the host's resistance is impaired opportunistic infections opportunistic diseases

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Other Words from opportunistic

opportunistically \ˌä-​pər-​tü-​ˈni-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē, -​tyü-​ \ adverb

Examples of opportunistic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This is an important point that may serve to counteract the opportunistic narrative that Republicans are pushing in order to discredit Dr. Ford. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "9 Powerful Quotes from Christine Blasey Ford's Hearing," 27 Sep. 2018 Is this just about opportunistic politicians dipping into state coffers so they can be photographed cutting the ribbon at a spanking new factory? New York Times, "Tax Breaks to Draw Jobs: A Bad Option, and Often the Only One," 8 May 2018 So why is our government, while ignoring truly needy factions, playing butler to an already rich, opportunistic, overindulged industry? Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, "Mitch Albom: Guess who the government wants to help? The airlines," 11 Feb. 2018 But opportunistic or abusive claims are unfortunately numerous in the current caseload, particularly among people who seek asylum after having been in the United States for a while. David A. Martin, Vox, "How to fix the crisis caused by Central American asylum seekers — humanely," 2 July 2018 Sometimes that player gets dropped in too many leagues, allowing patient or opportunistic owners to grab a guy who never should have been available in the first place. Michael Beller, SI.com, "Matt Adams is Back from the DL and Ready to Help Fantasy Teams," 7 July 2018 Wilcott settled down after that and Friendswood's offense proved to be opportunistic. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Baseball: Friendswood feasts on Clear Falls, 15-3," 20 Mar. 2018 Russia tasted defeat for the first time in this summer's FIFA World Cup, as an impressive free kick from Luis Suarez, an unfortunate own goal and an opportunistic effort by Edinson Cavani sealed a deserved victory for Uruguay in Samara on Monday. SI.com, "Uruguay 3-0 Russia: World Cup Hosts Brought Crashing Down to Earth by Ruthless Uruguayans," 25 June 2018 The second is that the reversals have been driven by opportunistic strongmen rather than the voters’ embrace of illiberal ideology. The Economist, "Lessons from the rise of strongmen in weak states," 14 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of opportunistic

1892, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for opportunistic

opportunist + -ic entry 1

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Last Updated

25 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for opportunistic

The first known use of opportunistic was in 1892

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More Definitions for opportunistic


op·​por·​tu·​nist·​ic | \-t(y)ü-ˈnis-tik \

Medical Definition of opportunistic 

1 : of, relating to, or being a microorganism that is usually harmless but can become pathogenic when the host's resistance to disease is impaired

2 : of, relating to, or being an infection or disease caused by an opportunistic organism Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and other opportunistic infections that kill AIDS patientsNew York Times

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More from Merriam-Webster on opportunistic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with opportunistic

Spanish Central: Translation of opportunistic

Nglish: Translation of opportunistic for Spanish Speakers

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