plank·​ton | \ ˈplaŋ(k)-tən How to pronounce plankton (audio) , -ˌtän \

Definition of plankton

: the passively floating or weakly swimming usually minute animal and plant life of a body of water

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Other Words from plankton

planktonic \ plaŋ(k)-​ˈtä-​nik How to pronounce plankton (audio) \ adjective

Examples of plankton in a Sentence

fish that feed mainly on plankton
Recent Examples on the Web Recent studies have found that populations of native plankton in some of Minnesota’s lakes have fallen by as much as 60 percent since the arrival of the spiny water flea. Tim Folger, Environment, 2 Dec. 2020 When plankton die or are consumed, a set of processes known as the biological carbon pump carries sinking particles of carbon from the surface to the deep ocean in a process known as marine snowfall. Ken Buesseler, The Conversation, 21 May 2020 Luckily for the glowing plankton under his care, David Gruber, a marine biologist, lives only six blocks from his research lab. New York Times, 23 Mar. 2020 The resulting sound from the music reminded me of the bioluminescent plankton. oregonlive, 1 Feb. 2020 But there’s also a strong outdoor-adventure pull, from snorkeling in nearby Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, where giant polka-dot whale sharks hunt for plankton, to quad-biking empty sand dunes. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 5 May 2020 The bigger chunks can clog the digestive systems of turtles, seabirds and whales, causing them to starve to death, while the tiniest and most insidious bits can be taken up by plankton, infiltrating the very foundation of the ocean food chain. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Apr. 2020 In addition to plankton, the opportunistic eaters can sustain themselves by feeding on the feces and mucous-coated regurgitation of invasive mussels. Tony Briscoe,, 12 Aug. 2019 In salt water, American shad filter-feed on plankton. Joe Cermele, Outdoor Life, 30 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'plankton.' 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 plankton

1889, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for plankton

German, from Greek, neuter of planktos drifting, from plazesthai to wander, drift, middle voice of plazein to drive astray; akin to Latin plangere to strike — more at plaint

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Time Traveler for plankton

Time Traveler

The first known use of plankton was in 1889

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Dictionary Entries Near plankton



plankton net

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Cite this Entry

“Plankton.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for plankton



English Language Learners Definition of plankton

: the very small animal and plant life in an ocean, lake, etc.


plank·​ton | \ ˈplaŋk-tən How to pronounce plankton (audio) \

Kids Definition of plankton

: the tiny floating plants and animals of a body of water

More from Merriam-Webster on plankton

Nglish: Translation of plankton for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about plankton


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