sym·​bi·​ot·​ic ˌsim-bē-ˈä-tik How to pronounce symbiotic (audio)
: relating to or marked by symbiosis:
: characterized by, living in, or being a close physical association (as in mutualism or commensalism) between two or more dissimilar organisms
The truffle is a … fungus that forms a symbiotic relationship with its host tree.Robb Walsh
Termites harbor diverse symbiotic gut microorganisms, the majority of which are as yet uncultivable and their interrelationships unclear.Yuichi Hongoh et al.
: characterized by or being a close, cooperative, or interdependent relationship
Today, art advisers are as diverse as the clients they help. They often work alone and form intimate, symbiotic relationships with the people they serve.Deborah Gimelson
Sigal's study … illustrates how reporters' constant need for news and how government officials' need for publicity and favorable coverage for their agencies combine into a symbiotic relationship between Washington reporters and officials.Charles R. Wright
symbiotically adverb
Some species of clams … live symbiotically with sulfur-loving bacteria: the bacteria, which live on the clams' gills, get sulfide from the clams, and the clams, in turn, feed on the bacteria. Natural History
The irony is that the Pentagon and the Soviet Defense Ministry prosper symbiotically. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Nelson explains that the seeds are dispersed by a bird, the Clark’s Nutcracker, in a unique symbiotic relationship with the tree. Jayme Moye, Condé Nast Traveler, 27 Feb. 2023 The tight team works well together until new recruit Joey (Nicholas Podany) throws a wrench in their symbiotic relationship, causing the friends to splinter and Jack to reassess his life choices. Lorraine Alitelevision Critic, Los Angeles Times, 17 Feb. 2023 The aim is to create a symbiotic relationship that provides the military with wider, faster access to commercial innovations, while also giving businesses contracts and military skills. Chris Buckley, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2023 The symbiotic relationship is unmatched: Barbar is there for the community, and the community is there for Barbar. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2023 As hunter-agriculturalists, the Yanomami maintain a symbiotic relationship with their environment. Tara John, CNN, 11 Feb. 2023 The pair ended up forming a symbiotic relationship as roommates, despite coming from different walks of life. CBS News, 3 Feb. 2023 The reported deal would further solidify the symbiotic relationship between Microsoft and OpenAI, which burst into the broader public consciousness last year following the release of its remarkable chatbot and text-to-image generator. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 10 Jan. 2023 Most damning of all is the exposure of the symbiotic relationship between the Firm and the press, which often means royal households compete against one another and leak stories about other family members to the tabloids. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 10 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History


symbi(osis) + -otic entry 1, probably after German symbiotisch

First Known Use

1875, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of symbiotic was in 1875

Dictionary Entries Near symbiotic

Cite this Entry

“Symbiotic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


sym·​bi·​ot·​ic ˌsim-ˌbī-ˈät-ik How to pronounce symbiotic (audio) -bē- How to pronounce symbiotic (audio)
variants also symbiotical
: relating to, characterized by, living in, or resulting from a state of symbiosis
symbiotically adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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