organism

noun
or·​gan·​ism | \ ˈȯr-gə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce organism (audio) \

Definition of organism

1 : a complex structure of interdependent and subordinate elements whose relations and properties are largely determined by their function in the whole the nation is not merely the sum of individual citizens at any given time, but it is a living organism, a mystical body … of which the individual is an ephemeral part— Joseph Rossi
2 : an individual constituted to carry on the activities of life by means of parts or organs more or less separate in function but mutually dependent : a living being a multicellular organism

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from organism

organismic \ ˌȯr-​gə-​ˈniz-​mik How to pronounce organismic (audio) \ or less commonly organismal \ ˌȯr-​gə-​ˈniz-​məl How to pronounce organismal (audio) \ adjective
organismically \ ˌȯr-​gə-​ˈniz-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce organismically (audio) \ adverb

Examples of organism in a Sentence

A human being is a complex organism.

Recent Examples on the Web

Diatomaceous earth is an organic powder that consists of the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms, called diatoms. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Get Rid of Termites," 8 Jan. 2019 When those pits become flooded, the sewage can flow into other areas and threaten the public water supply with a variety of bacteria and disease-causing micro-organisms. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Hurricane Florence could flood manure pits, contaminating drinking water, experts warn," 13 Sep. 2018 Scientists really are talking about Lamarck again, and while not everyone agrees, there is increasing buzz that in the microbial world, genetics—not epigenetics—sometimes allows organisms to acquire adaptive changes and pass them on. John Hawks, WSJ, "‘Lamarck’s Revenge’ Review: Inheriting the Wrong Ideas," 16 Aug. 2018 Insecticides are used for insect control, herbicides are used in weed control and fungicides control fungal organisms. Dan Gill, NOLA.com, "How to keep insects, weeds and diseases out of your South Louisiana garden," 24 May 2018 One of the newest products, GrubHALT, uses a naturally-occurring soil organism. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, "How to Get Rid of Those Pesky Moles in Your Yard," 30 Jan. 2019 The maggots tunnel in roots, killing plants directly or by creating entryways for disease organisms. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "The 10 Most Destructive Garden Insects and How to Get Rid of Them," 10 July 2018 Then you’re secretly in love with plankton, tiny marine organisms that float around at the mercy of currents. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Robot Microscopes Demystify Plankton, the Sea's Most Vital Residents," 22 Mar. 2018 In Darwinian evolution, organisms that are well-adapted to their environments flourish and crowd out those that aren’t. James Degregori, STAT, "Using the principles of evolution to treat and prevent cancer," 27 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of organism

circa 1774, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about organism

Statistics for organism

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for organism

The first known use of organism was circa 1774

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for organism

organism

noun

English Language Learners Definition of organism

: an individual living thing
: a system with many parts that depend on each other and work together

organism

noun
or·​gan·​ism | \ ˈȯr-gə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce organism (audio) \

Kids Definition of organism

: a living thing made up of one or more cells and able to carry on the activities of life (as using energy, growing, or reproducing)

organism

noun
or·​gan·​ism | \ ˈȯr-gə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce organism (audio) \

Medical Definition of organism

: an individual constituted to carry on the activities of life by means of organs separate in function but mutually dependent : a living being

Other Words from organism

organismic \ ˌȯr-​gə-​ˈniz-​mik How to pronounce organismic (audio) \ also organismal \ -​məl How to pronounce organismal (audio) \ adjective
organismically \ -​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce organismically (audio) \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on organism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with organism

Spanish Central: Translation of organism

Nglish: Translation of organism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of organism for Arabic Speakers

Comments on organism

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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