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[sim-bee-oh-sis, -bahy-] /ˌsɪm biˈoʊ sɪs, -baɪ-/
noun, plural symbioses
[sim-bee-oh-seez, -bahy-] /ˌsɪm biˈoʊ siz, -baɪ-/ (Show IPA)
  1. the living together of two dissimilar organisms, as in mutualism, commensalism, amensalism, or parasitism.
  2. (formerly) mutualism (def 1).
Psychiatry. a relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement, whether beneficial or detrimental, from the other.
Psychoanalysis. the relationship between an infant and its mother in which the infant is dependent on the mother both physically and emotionally.
any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc.
1615-25; < Greek symbíōsis, equivalent to sym- sym- + biō (variant stem of bioûn to live) + -sis -sis
Related forms
[sim-bee-ot-ik, -bahy-] /ˌsɪm biˈɒt ɪk, -baɪ-/ (Show IPA),
symbiotical, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for symbiosis
  • For starters, they don't harm benevolent bacteria living in symbiosis with human hosts.
  • It may also rely on an unspoken symbiosis between them-a covert handshake between apparent enemies.
  • From slimy to friendly, these invaders live in symbiosis with plants-and us.
  • Benjamin's evidence for nitrite-producing tongue bugs is drawn from rats, but he's confident a similar symbiosis exists in humans.
  • symbiosis is an ecological phenomenon where one kind of organism lives in physical contact with another.
  • symbiosis, she suggested, could explain why species appear so suddenly and why they persist so long without changing.
  • symbiosis couples the lives of the coral and the zooxanthellae together.
  • Viruses are intrinsically liked to the evolution of species and continue to live in symbiosis with our organism.
  • One wonders how microbe-mammal symbiosis may have helped this cognitive development.
  • There is a horrible symbiosis between the drug dealers and the enforcement establishment.
British Dictionary definitions for symbiosis


/ˌsɪmbɪˈəʊsɪs; ˌsɪmbaɪˈəʊsɪs/
a close and usually obligatory association of two organisms of different species that live together, often to their mutual benefit
a similar relationship between interdependent persons or groups
Derived Forms
symbiotic, (rare) symbiotical, adjective
Word Origin
C19: via New Latin from Greek: a living together; see symbiont
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 symbiosis

1877, as a biological term, "mutually beneficial association of two different organisms," from Modern Latin, from Greek symbiosis "a living together," from symbioun "live together," from symbios "(one) living together (with another), partner," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + bios "life" (see bio-). Given a wider (non-biological) sense by 1921. An earlier sense of "communal or social life" is found in 1620s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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symbiosis in Medicine

symbiosis sym·bi·o·sis (sĭm'bē-ō'sĭs, -bī-)
n. pl. sym·bi·o·ses (-sēz)

  1. A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.

  2. A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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symbiosis in Science
The close association between two or more organisms of different species, often but not necessarily benefiting each member. The association of algae and fungi in lichens and of bacteria living in the intestines or on the skin of animals are forms of symbiosis. Some scientists believe that many multicellular organisms evolved from symbiotic relationships between unicellular ones and that the DNA-containing organelles within certain eukaryotic cells (such as mitochondria and chloroplasts) are the product of symbiotic relationships in which the participants became interdependent. There are four forms of symbiosis: amensalism, commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism.

symbiotic adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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symbiosis in Culture
symbiosis [(sim-bee-oh-sis, sim-beye-oh-sis)]

The process by which two organisms live together, usually to their mutual benefit. An example of a symbiotic pair are cows and the bacteria that live in their digestive tracts, enabling them to digest cellulose in grass.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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