prokaryote

noun

pro·​kary·​ote (ˌ)prō-ˈker-ē-ˌōt How to pronounce prokaryote (audio)
(ˌ)prō-ˈka-rē-ˌōt
variants or less commonly procaryote
: any of the typically unicellular microorganisms that lack a distinct nucleus and membrane-bound organelles and that are classified as a kingdom (Prokaryotae synonym Monera) or into two domains (Bacteria and Archaea) compare archaea, bacterium, eukaryote

Examples of prokaryote in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Why regulate genes in this complicated manner, rather than relying on the kind of strong and specific interactions between regulatory proteins and DNA sites that dominate in prokaryotes? Philip Ball, Quanta Magazine, 14 Feb. 2024 More complex organisms like ourselves descend from eukaryotes, which have a nuclear membrane around their DNA (as opposed to prokaryotes, which don’t). Elizabeth Rayne, Ars Technica, 2 Feb. 2024 In fact, as far back as the mid-1800s researchers had been lighting on evidence that bacteria were able to manufacture substances that inhibited or even killed other prokaryotes. Mark Caldwell, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 The team is building on a 2021 discovery of a class of RNA-programmable systems in prokaryotes called OMEGAs. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 29 June 2023 Faced with the same supply problem, Epulopiscium will remain a prokaryote. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 20 Oct. 2010 Even this giant prokaryote needs to have genes in close proximity to its membrane. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 20 Oct. 2010 Up until then, viral factories appeared to be exclusive to the viruses that infect eukaryotes, so finding one in a prokaryote bolstered the idea that something similar could have happened long ago to initiate the formation of a nucleus. Quanta Magazine, 25 Nov. 2020 But some researchers suspect there are many more species of prokaryotes in the world — which would mean many more species of viruses. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, 24 Mar. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prokaryote.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

New Latin Prokaryotes, proposed subdivision of protists, from pro- entry 1 + kary- + -otes, plural noun suffix, from Greek -ōtos — more at -otic

First Known Use

1963, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of prokaryote was in 1963

Dictionary Entries Near prokaryote

Cite this Entry

“Prokaryote.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prokaryote. Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

prokaryote

noun
pro·​kary·​ote prō-ˈkar-ē-ˌōt How to pronounce prokaryote (audio)
: an organism (as a bacterium) that is typically single-celled and does not have a nucleus or most of the cell structures (as mitochondria) characteristic of eukaryotes

Medical Definition

prokaryote

noun
pro·​kary·​ote
variants also procaryote
: any of the typically unicellular microorganisms that lack a distinct nucleus and membrane-bound organelles and that are classified as a kingdom (Prokaryotae synonym Monera) or into two domains (Bacteria and Archaea) compare eukaryote
prokaryotic adjective
also procaryotic

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