tropism

1 of 2

noun

tro·​pism ˈtrō-ˌpi-zəm How to pronounce tropism (audio)
1
a
: involuntary orientation by an organism or one of its parts that involves turning or curving by movement or by differential growth and is a positive or negative response to a source of stimulation
b
: a reflex reaction involving a tropism
2
: an innate tendency to react in a definite manner to stimuli
broadly : a natural inclination : propensity
encouraged his tropism toward the theatrical John Updike
tropistic adjective

-tropism

2 of 2

noun combining form

: tropism
heliotropism

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The music of Bizet and Gounod partakes of this tropism toward the elegant and pleasing. Janet Malcolm, The New Yorker, 14 July 2022 Is this a late-life aberration, or can the tropism be traced to a deeper angst that was missed in its time? The New Yorker, 18 Apr. 2022 In one way, the press conferences are a logical continuation of Trump’s tropism toward spectacle. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 24 Apr. 2020 Now, as with so much else, Trumpism is changing that tropism in unpredictable ways. Bill Mckibben, New Republic, 6 July 2017

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

generalization of -tropism, after German Tropismus

Noun combining form

-trope or -trop(ic) + -ism, after German -tropismus

First Known Use

Noun

1893, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of tropism was in 1893

Dictionary Entries Near tropism

Cite this Entry

“Tropism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tropism. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

tropism

noun

tro·​pism ˈtrō-ˌpiz-əm How to pronounce tropism (audio)
: an automatic movement by an organism unable to move about from place to place and especially by a plant that involves a turning or growing toward or away from a stimulus (as light or moisture)
also : a reflex reaction involving such a movement compare taxis
tropistic adjective

Medical Definition

tropism

noun

tro·​pism ˈtrō-ˌpiz-əm How to pronounce tropism (audio)
: involuntary orientation by an organism or one of its parts that involves turning or curving by movement or by differential growth and is a positive or negative response to a source of stimulation
also : a reflex reaction involving a tropism
tropistic adjective

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