parasite

noun
par·​a·​site | \ ˈper-ə-ˌsīt How to pronounce parasite (audio) , 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 hosting rat eventually poops out the young parasites, which then get gobbled up by feces-feasting snails and slugs (intermediate hosts). Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Hawaii warns tourists of parasitic worm that can burrow into human brains," 30 May 2019 Cyclospora is a fairly unusual parasite and it’s not easily removed by washing produce. Maggie Fox /, NBC News, "61 sick in parasite outbreak linked to McDonald's salads," 14 July 2018 Doctors determined that the wandering wart was actually a marauding parasite, likely transmitted by a mosquito bite on her trip. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Selfies show worm slithered through woman’s face for 2 weeks," 22 June 2018 One of the top causes of post-swim illness is a parasite called cryptosporidium (crypto for short), which leads to diarrhea, stomach pain and nausea. Dr. Roshini Raj, Health.com, "3 Things You Can Catch from a Pool," 23 May 2018 No fewer than 100 parasites can be contracted from raw fish. Tamar Adler, Vogue, "Is Serving Raw Meat And Fish A Dinner Party Taboo?," 12 Apr. 2019 To control these bugs: Wash plants with strong spray of water Encourage native predators and parasites such as aphid midges, lacewings, and lady beetles 2. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "The 10 Most Destructive Garden Insects and How to Get Rid of Them," 10 July 2018 In 1996, more than 1,000 people were sickened by cyclospora parasites, catching health officials off guard and prompting them to step up food testing to try to trace the source of the outbreak. Mihir Zaveri, BostonGlobe.com, "Vegetable trays linked to outbreak," 7 July 2018 Malaria is caused by parasites called Plasmodium that are transmitted to people through bites from infected mosquitoes. Lindsey Lanquist, SELF, "Watch David Beckham Stare Down a Swarm of Mosquitoes to Make an Important Point About Malaria," 7 Feb. 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

13 Jun 2019

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
disapproving : 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 How to pronounce parasite (audio) \

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 How to pronounce parasite (audio) \

Medical Definition of parasite

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

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Comments on parasite

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