symbiosis

noun sym·bi·o·sis \ ˌsim-bē-ˈō-səs , -ˌbī- \

Definition of symbiosis

plural symbioses play \-ˌsēz\
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

symbiotic

play \-ˈä-tik\ adjective

symbiotically

play \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

symbiosis was our Word of the Day on 03/30/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of symbiosis in a Sentence

  1. The bird lives in symbiosis with the hippopotamus.

  2. Their professional association was one of symbiosis.

Recent Examples of symbiosis from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of 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


SYMBIOSIS Defined for English Language Learners

symbiosis

noun

Definition of symbiosis for English Language Learners

  • 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


Medical Dictionary

symbiosis

noun sym·bi·o·sis \ ˌsim-ˌbī-ˈō-səs , -bē- \

medical Definition of symbiosis

plural symbioses play \-ˌsēz\
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

Learn More about symbiosis


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up symbiosis? 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 suppress quietly or indirectly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!