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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.
Origin and Etymology of protoplasm
German Protoplasma, from prot- + New Latin plasma
First Known Use: 1848See Words from the same year
PROTOPLASM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of protoplasm for English Language Learners
biology : the usually colorless substance that is the living part of animal and plant cells
PROTOPLASM Defined for Kids
Definition of protoplasm for Students
: the usually colorless and jellylike living part of cells
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
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