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 What has not been tried until recently is to apply the principles of selective breeding that are employed to improve meat, milk, wool and hide production to the question of parasite control. The Economist, "Animal husbandry Nematode parasites kill a lot of sheep," 21 Nov. 2019 In many cases, water from streams and rivers is used for washing, cooking and drinking, so flushing untreated sludge—potentially containing dangerous viruses, bacteria and parasite cysts—can cause serious problems downstream. Purva Dewoolkar, Quartz India, "India and China compete again—for whose toilet revolution is worse," 20 Nov. 2019 The city wants to have a new water treatment plant operational by 2027 in order to comply with federal drinking water regulations to filter out the parasite cryptosporidium and other contaminates. oregonlive, "Portland Water Bureau says filtration plant could cost as much as $1.2 billion," 14 Nov. 2019 The mud helps buffalo get rid of ticks and parasites that latch onto their skin. Kylie Mohr, National Geographic, "African buffalo," 9 Nov. 2019 After developing in their snail hosts for a while, free-swimming parasites break free and latch onto freshwater vegetation, such as watercress. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Watch this beautifully disgusting liver fluke parasite explore man’s innards," 8 Nov. 2019 The cause of the headaches, weakness and pain were trypanosomes, tiny parasites spread by the bite of the tsetste fly — a companion of the elephants. SFChronicle.com, "News of the Day From Around the World, Oct. 30," 30 Oct. 2019 The cause of the headaches, weakness and pain were trypanosomes, tiny parasites spread by the bite of the tsetste fly — a companion of the elephants. Washington Post, "Malawi fights tsetse flies, disease after wildlife relocated," 30 Oct. 2019 This particular parasite is not registered as a foreign lobbyist. James Gorman, New York Times, "Meet the Bloodsuckers," 28 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for parasite

Time Traveler

The first known use of parasite was in 1539

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Statistics for parasite

Last Updated

28 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Parasite.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parasitically. Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for parasite

parasite

noun
How to pronounce parasite (audio)

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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