organism

noun

or·​gan·​ism ˈȯr-gə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce organism (audio)
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 partJoseph 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
organismic adjective
or less commonly organismal
organismically adverb

Examples of organism in a Sentence

A human being is a complex organism.
Recent Examples on the Web But the scientists believe that this unusual environment could host organisms with unsuspected talents. Veronique Greenwood, New York Times, 6 Feb. 2024 All organisms leave behind fragments of DNA in the form of skin cells, hair or bodily fluids, and this genetic material is known as environmental DNA or eDNA. Katie Hunt, CNN, 5 Feb. 2024 More complex organisms like ourselves descend from eukaryotes, which have a nuclear membrane around their DNA (as opposed to prokaryotes, which don’t). Elizabeth Rayne, Ars Technica, 2 Feb. 2024 Reunited, they are restored to life, magnetized into ecstasy, determined to do everything humanly possible to merge into a single organism. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2024 Yet the three botanical artists render these everyday organisms with near-infinite care. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2024 This is a pattern found in many different organisms sampled, and studies have shown that shade coffee can contribute to supporting plant, insect, spider, lizard, bird, bat and mammal diversity. Lesley Evans Ogden, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Jan. 2024 Either way, the strength of the germline signal regulates the organism’s life span, Dillin said. Quanta Magazine, 8 Jan. 2024 Organic and synthetic Organic fertilizers such as blood meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal and fish emulsion are derived from the remains of living organisms. Rita Perwich, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1774, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of organism was circa 1774

Dictionary Entries Near organism

Cite this Entry

“Organism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/organism. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

organism

noun
or·​gan·​ism ˈȯr-gə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce organism (audio)
1
: something having many related parts that function together as a whole
2
: an individual living thing that carries on the activities of life by means of organs which have separate functions but are dependent on each other : a living person, plant, or animal
organismic adjective

Medical Definition

organism

noun
or·​gan·​ism ˈȯr-gə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce organism (audio)
: an individual constituted to carry on the activities of life by means of organs separate in function but mutually dependent : a living being
organismic adjective
also organismal
organismically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on organism

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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