pe·​riph·​y·​ton pə-ˈri-fə-ˌtän How to pronounce periphyton (audio)
: organisms (such as some algae) that live attached to underwater surfaces
periphytic adjective

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Lack of freshwater has caused periphyton, which forms the basis of the marsh food chain, to collapse in some places. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'periphyton.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


borrowed from Russian perifitón, probably borrowed from Greek períphyton, neuter of períphytos, verbal adjective of periphýesthai "to grow all around," from peri- peri- + phýesthai "to grow, spring up," middle voice of phýein "to bring forth, produce" (formed in Russian by analogy with planktón plankton) — more at be

Note: The Russian term was introduced by the hydrobiologist Arvid Liborʼevič Bening (1890-1943, of Volga and Bessarabian German ancestry) in K izučeniju pridonnoj žizni reki Volgi, Monografija No. 1 Volžckoj Biologičeskoj Stancii (Saratov, 1924).

First Known Use

1931, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of periphyton was in 1931

Dictionary Entries Near periphyton

Cite this Entry

“Periphyton.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Fashionable Words

  • dog-sunglasses-scarf
  • Which of these items is named for a deadly weapon?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?