symbiosis

noun
sym·​bi·​o·​sis | \ˌsim-bē-ˈō-səs, -ˌbī-\
plural symbioses\ˌsim-​bē-​ˈō-​ˌsēz \

Definition of symbiosis 

1 : the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms (as in parasitism or commensalism) especially : mutualism

2 : a cooperative relationship (as between two persons or groups) the symbiosis … between the resident population and the immigrants— John Geipel

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Other Words from symbiosis

symbiotic \ˌsim-​bē-​ˈä-​tik \ adjective
symbiotically \ˌsim-​bē-​ˈä-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

Symbiosis was adopted by the scientific community in the late 1800s, though it had appeared in English in a non-scientific sense as far back as 1622. When a biological symbiosis is mutually beneficial, it is termed "mutualism." For example, when the yucca moth lays her eggs in the seed pods of the yucca, she acts as pollinator, and when the larvae hatch they feed on some, but not all, of the seeds. When one organism lives off another at the other’s expense, it’s called "parasitism." Either way, living together is what "symbiosis" is all about; the word came to us, via German and New Latin, from the Greek symbiōsis, meaning "state of living together." "Symbiōsis," in turn, traces to "symbios" ("living together"), a combination of syn-, meaning "with," and bios, meaning "life."

Examples of symbiosis in a Sentence

The bird lives in symbiosis with the hippopotamus. Their professional association was one of symbiosis.

Recent Examples on the Web

There is a wonderful symbiosis between the worlds of fashion and theatre, and who better embodies the two than the surprise guest and presenter John Galliano? Vogue, "Claire Foy, Idris Elba, Anna Wintour, Sophie Okonedo, Ralph Fiennes, and the Cast of Hamilton Fete the 64th Evening Standard Theatre Awards," 19 Nov. 2018 Broderick focuses on the symbiosis between internet media, which excels at promoting a sense of perpetual crisis and outrage, and far-right leaders who promise a return to normalcy. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why social media is friend to far-right politicians around the world," 30 Oct. 2018 Nothing symbolizes border evanescence like the symbiosis of San Diego and Tijuana, where a bridge over the divide takes Upper Californians to the airport in Baja California. Felipe Fernández-armesto, WSJ, "‘Vanishing Frontiers’ Review: The Ties That Bind," 25 June 2018 The totality equals a crash course in New York choreographic history that reveals an ingenious symbiosis of dance and film. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "12 Galleries to Visit Now in Chelsea," 26 Apr. 2018 Seven years later, the symbiosis between Donald J. Trump and his favorite cable network has only deepened. New York Times, "Fox News Once Gave Trump a Perch. Now It’s His Bullhorn.," 1 July 2018 Whatever happens in November, if the high court on Monday rules against the Democratic-public sector symbiosis, Bruce Rauner will have left his mark on Illinois. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Gov. Rauner’s legacy rests with the U.S. Supreme Court," 22 June 2018 Seven years later, the symbiosis between Donald J. Trump and his favorite cable network has only deepened. New York Times, "Fox News Once Gave Trump a Perch. Now It’s His Bullhorn.," 1 July 2018 That’s where the Janus case threatens the corrupt Democrat-government worker union symbiosis. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Gov. Rauner’s legacy rests with the U.S. Supreme Court," 22 June 2018

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

1877, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for symbiosis

New Latin, from German Symbiose, from Greek symbiōsis state of living together, from symbioun to live together, from symbios living together, from syn- + bios life — more at quick entry 1

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Last Updated

28 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for symbiosis

The first known use of symbiosis was in 1877

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More Definitions for symbiosis

symbiosis

noun

English Language Learners Definition of symbiosis

biology : the relationship between two different kinds of living things that live together and depend on each other

: a relationship between two people or groups that work with and depend on each other

symbiosis

noun
sym·​bi·​o·​sis | \ˌsim-ˌbī-ˈō-səs, -bē- \
plural symbioses\-​ˌsēz \

Medical Definition of symbiosis 

1 : the living together of two dissimilar organisms in more or less intimate association or close union

2 : the intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms in a mutually beneficial relationship especially : mutualism

More from Merriam-Webster on symbiosis

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with symbiosis

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about symbiosis

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