paramecium

noun

par·​a·​me·​cium ˌper-ə-ˈmē-sh(ē-)əm How to pronounce paramecium (audio)
-sē-əm,
ˌpa-rə-
plural paramecia ˌper-ə-ˈmē-sh(ē-)ə How to pronounce paramecium (audio)
-sē-ə,
ˌpa-rə-
also parameciums
: any of a genus (Paramecium) of ciliate chiefly freshwater protozoans that have an elongate body rounded at the anterior end and an oblique funnel-shaped buccal groove bearing the mouth at the extremity

Examples of paramecium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Few organisms rank lower in life than the gelatinous, pond-dwelling paramecium. Mara Grunbaum, Discover Magazine, 3 July 2011 The boost in genetic information may have given the paramecium a survival advantage by allowing for more beneficial mutations, which drive evolution. Mara Grunbaum, Discover Magazine, 3 July 2011 The myth of the simple paramecium was shattered in 2006 when scientists sequenced its genome. Mara Grunbaum, Discover Magazine, 3 July 2011

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

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from New Latin Paramecium, pre-Linnaean name for protozoa of the genus, from Greek paramḗkēs "oblong, oval" (from para- para- entry 1 + -mēkēs, adjective corresponding to mêkos "length, height, magnitude") + New Latin -ium -ium — more at meager

Note: The name Paramecium was introduced, in both Latin descriptions and English descriptions maintaining the Latin coinage Paramecium, by the English polymath John Hill (ca. 1714-1775) in An History of Animals (London, 1752, vol. 3 of his A General Natural History), p. 4. The word was first used as a Linnaean genus name by Otto Frederik Müller in Vermivm terrestrium et fluviatilium, seu, Animalium infusoriorum … succincta historia, vol. 1 (Copenhagen & Leipzig, 1773), p. 54 (spelled unetymologically Paramæcium, corrected in later publications).

First Known Use

1752, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of paramecium was in 1752

Dictionary Entries Near paramecium

Cite this Entry

“Paramecium.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paramecium. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

paramecium

noun
par·​a·​me·​cium ˌpar-ə-ˈmē-sh(ē-)əm How to pronounce paramecium (audio)
-sē-əm
plural paramecia -sh(ē-)ə How to pronounce paramecium (audio)
-sē-ə
also parameciums
: any of a genus of one-celled somewhat slipper-shaped mostly freshwater protozoans that move by cilia

Medical Definition

paramecium

noun
par·​a·​me·​cium ˌpar-ə-ˈmē-sh(ē-)əm, -sē-əm How to pronounce paramecium (audio)
1
capitalized : a genus of ciliate protozoans that have an elongate body rounded at the anterior end and an oblique funnel-shaped buccal groove bearing the mouth at the extremity
2
plural paramecia -sh(ē-)ə, -sē-ə How to pronounce paramecium (audio) also parameciums : any ciliate protozoan of the genus Paramecium

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