phy·​to·​plank·​ton ˌfī-tō-ˈplaŋ(k)-tən How to pronounce phytoplankton (audio)
: planktonic plant life
phytoplanktonic adjective

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web According to the agency, the mosaic image shows bright blue water containing phytoplankton in the Caribbean Sea, weather systems moving and smog from agricultural fires in Northern India. Julia Musto, Fox News, 31 Dec. 2022 Whale excreta may stimulate phytoplankton growth and capture atmospheric CO2; such indirect pathways represent the greatest potential for whale-carbon sequestration but are poorly understood. James Freeman, WSJ, 20 Dec. 2022 And that’s given rise to the huge diversity of eukaryotic phytoplankton. Quanta Magazine, 19 Dec. 2022 One 2008 study, for example, found that conditions created by climate change helped the phytoplankton to grow faster, but made forming shells difficult. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 16 Aug. 2018 Expedition guides then link that awe back to the food web, and the audience realizes the scale of all the phytoplankton. Citizen Science Salon, Discover Magazine, 8 June 2019 Allen’s grandson, Henry Allen Brubaker, 86, hand-cranked a bucket down through a cutout in the pier to scoop up some phytoplankton. San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Dec. 2022 San Diego’s beaches are also well-reputed for having warmer waters and prime conditions for the phytoplankton. Dakota Kim, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2022 Krill eat the phytoplankton, and animals like seals, fish, and penguins eat the krill. Allison Chinchar, CNN, 7 May 2022 See More

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

Word History


phyto- + plankton

First Known Use

1897, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of phytoplankton was in 1897

Dictionary Entries Near phytoplankton

Cite this Entry

“Phytoplankton.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


phy·​to·​plank·​ton ˌfī-tō-ˈplaŋ(k)-tən How to pronounce phytoplankton (audio)
: plankton that is composed of plants

More from Merriam-Webster on phytoplankton

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
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?