protoplasm

play
noun pro·to·plasm \ˈprō-tə-ˌpla-zəm\

Definition of protoplasm

  1. 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. 2 :  cytoplasm

protoplasmic

play \ˌprō-tə-ˈplaz-mik\ adjective

Recent Examples of protoplasm from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of protoplasm

German Protoplasma, from prot- + New Latin plasma


PROTOPLASM Defined for English Language Learners

protoplasm

play
noun

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

protoplasm

play
noun pro·to·plasm \ˈprō-tə-ˌpla-zəm\

Definition of protoplasm for Students

  1. :  the usually colorless and jellylike living part of cells


Medical Dictionary

protoplasm

play
noun pro·to·plasm \ˈprōt-ə-ˌplaz-əm\

Medical Definition of protoplasm

  1. 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. 2:  cytoplasm



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up protoplasm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to fight against or to call in question

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!