parasite

noun
par·​a·​site | \ˈper-ə-ˌsīt, ˈpa-rə-\

Definition of parasite 

1 : a person who exploits the hospitality of the rich and earns welcome by flattery sought to rid the palace of the parasites of his prosperity

2 : an organism living in, with, or on another organism in parasitism an intestinal parasite of humans a parasite that causes malaria

3 : something that resembles a biological parasite in dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return That city has become a parasite on the country.

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Choose the Right Synonym for parasite

parasite, sycophant, toady, leech, sponge mean a usually obsequious flatterer or self-seeker. parasite applies to one who clings to a person of wealth, power, or influence or is useless to society. a jet-setter with an entourage of parasites sycophant adds to this a strong suggestion of fawning, flattery, or adulation. a powerful prince surrounded by sycophants toady emphasizes the servility and snobbery of the self-seeker. cultivated leaders of society and became their toady leech stresses persistence in clinging to or bleeding another for one's own advantage. a leech living off his family and friends sponge stresses the parasitic laziness, dependence, and opportunism of the cadger. a shiftless sponge, always looking for a handout

Examples of parasite in a Sentence

Many diseases are caused by parasites. She's a parasite who only stays with him for the money. These new companies are parasites feeding off the success of those who spent the last decade establishing the industry.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The bugs can transmit the parasite to people through a series of disgusting events. Korin Miller, SELF, "What You Need to Know About Chagas Disease—the Illness Spread by Kissing Bugs," 28 Aug. 2018 The scientists for the study also found that the parasite makes rats less afraid of cats, and could reduce the fear of failure in humans as well. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "How Cat Poop Can Affect Your Health," 9 Aug. 2018 Spray insect repellent with deet or permethrin and wear long sleeves and pants to help protect your skin from these blood-drinking parasites. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "QUIZ: Can You Identify These Dangerous Summer Plants and Bugs?," 3 Aug. 2018 According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the parasite is most commonly found in developing countries, but has been increasingly affecting Americans during the summer months. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "More Than 100 People Ill From Parasite Possibly Linked to McDonald's Salads," 13 July 2018 Humans with elevated bilirubin, Greenfieldboyce reports, have some added protection against malaria parasites. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "These Lizards Evolved Toxic Green Blood," 17 May 2018 The bugs, 55% of which Texas A&M estimates are infected with the parasite, don’t spread Chagas simply by biting. Bartie Scott, Teen Vogue, "Disease Spread by Kissing Bug Could Become More Common in the U.S.," 21 Aug. 2018 Cyclosporiasis is caused by a microscopic parasite, known as cyclospora, found in food or water that has been contaminated with feces. Matthew Haag, New York Times, "McDonald’s Removes Salads Linked to Intestinal Parasite Outbreak in Midwest," 13 July 2018 Another puppy, Bodhi, was found to have giardia, a parasite typically present in contaminated water, records show, so the whole family was treated for it. Rebekah L. Sanders, azcentral, "Arizona U-Haul billionaire dumps 7 sick rottweilers on dog rescue in Gilbert," 26 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'parasite.' 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 parasite

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for parasite

Middle French, from Latin parasitus, from Greek parasitos, from para- + sitos grain, food

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Statistics for parasite

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for parasite

The first known use of parasite was in 1539

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More Definitions for parasite

parasite

noun

English Language Learners Definition of parasite

: an animal or plant that lives in or on another animal or plant and gets food or protection from it

: a person or thing that takes something from someone or something else and does not do anything to earn it or deserve it

parasite

noun
par·​a·​site | \ˈper-ə-ˌsīt \

Kids Definition of parasite

1 : a living thing (as a flea, worm, or fungus) that lives in or on another living thing and gets food and sometimes shelter from it and usually causes harm to it

2 : a person who lives at the expense of another

parasite

noun
par·​a·​site | \ˈpar-ə-ˌsīt \

Medical Definition of parasite 

: an organism living in, with, or on another organism in parasitism

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