Essential Meaning of parasite
1 : an animal or plant that lives in or on another animal or plant and gets food or protection from it Many diseases are caused by parasites.
2 disapproving : a person or thing that takes something from someone or something else and does not do anything to earn it or deserve it 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.
Full Definition of parasite
1 : an organism living in, on, or with another organism in order to obtain nutrients, grow, or multiply often in a state that directly or indirectly harms the host (see host entry 3 sense 2a) Now the death of its host is certainly a setback to any parasite. To some (like the tapeworm) it is fatal; but smarter ones (like the louse) simply go off in search of a new host.— David Jones The fungus is an obligate parasite, that is, it must have a living host (tobacco) on which to grow and complete its life cycle.— G. B. Lucas The blood schizogonic cycle of human malaria parasites has thus far been the most exhaustively studied phase of parasite development.— Dominique Mazier et al. Sadly, the vireo is vulnerable to a nest parasite, the brown-headed cowbird … . The cowbird lays its much-larger eggs in the vireo's nest, which hatch first and place such a high food demand on its tiny "parents" that the vireo young go unfed.— Karen D. Fishler Unlike bacteria or viruses, parasites undergo a metamorphosis during their life cycles that presents the human immune system with a moving target.— Lawrence M. Fisher Like all viruses, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an intracellular parasite: the virus particle itself is inert and cannot propagate or do any damage until it enters a host cell.— Jonathan N. Weber and Robin A. Weiss Salmonella species are intracellular parasites, and it is thought that these bacteria gain access to their host by penetrating through intestinal epithelial cells.— B. Brett Finlay et al. — see also ectoparasite, endoparasite
2 : someone or something that resembles a biological parasite in living off of, being dependent on, or exploiting another while giving little or nothing in return But the frequent and familiar companions of the great, are those parasites, who practise the most useful of all arts, the art of flattery …— Edward Gibbon Their lyrics … convey a bilious contempt for the city's wealthy parasites …— Philip Montoro In their view, the country is afflicted with a class of parasites—"Career politicians," who devote their lives to perpetuating themselves in office by spending the people's money.— Hendrick Hertzberg Regulatory agencies have stripped Holyfield of his boxing license now, protecting him from his pride and from the parasites who can still squeeze money out of the faded neon in his name.— Dan Le Batard
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