protoplasm

noun
pro·​to·​plasm | \ ˈprō-tə-ˌpla-zəm How to pronounce protoplasm (audio) \

Definition of protoplasm

1 : the organized colloidal complex of organic and inorganic substances (such as proteins and water) that constitutes the living nucleus, cytoplasm, plastids, and mitochondria of the cell
2 : cytoplasm

Other Words from protoplasm

protoplasmic \ ˌprō-​tə-​ˈplaz-​mik How to pronounce protoplasm (audio) \ adjective

Did you know?

After the word protoplasm was coined in the mid-19th century for the jellylike material that is the main substance of a cell, it began to be used widely, especially by scientists and others who imagined that the first life-forms must have arisen out of a great seething protoplasmic soup. Since protoplasm includes all the cell's living material, inside and outside the nucleus, it is a less useful scientific word today than more precise terms such as cytoplasm, which refers only to the living material outside the nucleus. But many remain fascinated by the image of that soup bubbling away as the lightning flashes and the volcanoes erupt.

Examples of protoplasm in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web On a computer screen that shows the display from the microscope, Trichoplax looks like a glowing, pulsing orb surrounded by cosmic protoplasm. Emily Underwood, The Atlantic, 8 June 2020 Altmann believed that cells themselves came into existence when these granules assembled into colonies and built a shelter of protoplasm around themselves. Carl Zimmer, STAT, 30 May 2018 Responding to a moldy sack of protoplasm who writes for the Daily Caller, CNN editor Chris Cillizza leapt to Jacobs’s defense. Brian Beutler, New Republic, 26 May 2017

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

First Known Use of protoplasm

1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for protoplasm

German Protoplasma, from prot- + New Latin plasma

Learn More About protoplasm

Time Traveler for protoplasm

Time Traveler

The first known use of protoplasm was in 1848

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near protoplasm

protoplanet

protoplasm

protoplasmal

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for protoplasm

Cite this Entry

“Protoplasm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/protoplasm. Accessed 7 Jul. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for protoplasm

protoplasm

noun
pro·​to·​plasm | \ ˈprō-tə-ˌpla-zəm How to pronounce protoplasm (audio) \

Kids Definition of protoplasm

: the usually colorless and jellylike living part of cells

protoplasm

noun
pro·​to·​plasm | \ ˈprōt-ə-ˌplaz-əm How to pronounce protoplasm (audio) \

Medical Definition of protoplasm

1 : the organized colloidal complex of organic and inorganic substances (as proteins and water) that constitutes the living nucleus, cytoplasm, plastids, and mitochondria of the cell and is regarded as the only form of matter in which the vital phenomena (as metabolism and reproduction) are manifested
2 : cytoplasm

More from Merriam-Webster on protoplasm

Nglish: Translation of protoplasm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about protoplasm

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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