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 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
organismic adjective
or less commonly organismal
organismically adverb

Example Sentences

A human being is a complex organism.
Recent Examples on the Web Seaweed is an incredibly resilient organism, and some species, such as giant kelp, can grow up to two feet a day and as tall as 175 feet. Bylucy Sherriff, Fortune, 7 Nov. 2022 The traditional definition, Di Girolamo explains, is an organism made of multiple cells. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2022 An invasive species is an organism that is not indigenous, or native, to a particular area. Chris Mckeown, The Enquirer, 30 July 2022 Genetic analysis has revealed that the underwater fields of waving green seagrass are a single organism covering 70 square miles (180 square kilometers) through making copies of itself over 4,500 years. Christina Larson, ajc, 1 June 2022 Your body is a fantastic organism full of organic materials working hard to keep your body in tip-top shape. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 May 2022 Lichen is a perceptive, malleable and mutable organism. Sandra Macgregor, Forbes, 4 May 2022 Standing on a lot redolent of fresh-cut poplar and littered with arboreal debris — tree chunks as large as small cars that were once a 108-foot-tall living organism — Zumot said the choice was easy. Washington Post, 4 Mar. 2022 Lichens are a diverse and widespread organism, with around 17,000 species covering around seven percent of the world’s surface. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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 5 Dec. 2022.

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
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ