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[awr-guh-niz-uh m] /ˈɔr gəˌnɪz əm/
a form of life composed of mutually interdependent parts that maintain various vital processes.
a form of life considered as an entity; an animal, plant, fungus, protistan, or moneran.
any organized body or system conceived of as analogous to a living being:
the governmental organism.
any complex thing or system having properties and functions determined not only by the properties and relations of its individual parts, but by the character of the whole that they compose and by the relations of the parts to the whole.
Origin of organism
1655-65; organ + -ism
Related forms
organismic, organismal, adjective
organismically, adverb
superorganism, noun
Can be confused
organism, orgasm.
4. organization, network, entity, structure. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for organism
  • There is action, reaction, and feedback loops and attenuation effects that resemble the complexity of a living organism.
  • To exist, a cancer needs a living organism, but it cannot ever become a living organism.
  • The organism may be sicker, he observes, but it is living longer.
  • And they may get better thanks to living cells: the multicellular organism called brown algae.
  • Information is simply a way of arranging descriptors of the physical world in a manner that the living organism can use.
  • When scientists trace the origins of an organism, they compare it to other living things.
  • The cells of an organism are nodes in a richly interwoven communications network, transmitting and receiving, coding and decoding.
  • What is different now is the evolution of a new political organism, with paranoia as its animating principle.
  • The first group comprises those who select a problem to work on and then look around for the ideal organism to solve the problem.
  • Mr g spends quite a while experimenting with consciousness, adding cells to an organism to see when it becomes conscious.
British Dictionary definitions for organism


any living biological entity, such as an animal, plant, fungus, or bacterium
anything resembling a living creature in structure, behaviour, etc
Derived Forms
organismal, organismic, adjective
organismally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for organism

1660s, "organic structure, organization," from organize + -ism. Sense of "living animal or plant" first recorded 1842. Related: Organismic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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organism in Medicine

organism or·gan·ism (ôr'gə-nĭz'əm)
An individual form of life, such as a plant, an animal, a bacterium, a protist, or a fungus; a body made up of organs, organelles, or other parts that work together to carry on the various processes of life.

or'gan·is'mal (-nĭz'məl) or or'gan·is'mic (-mĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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organism in Science
An individual form of life that is capable of growing, metabolizing nutrients, and usually reproducing. Organisms can be unicellular or multicellular. They are scientifically divided into five different groups (called kingdoms) that include prokaryotes, protists, fungi, plants, and animals, and that are further subdivided based on common ancestry and homology of anatomic and molecular structures.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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