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[dee-kuh m-poh-zer] /ˌdi kəmˈpoʊ zər/
a person or thing that decomposes.
Ecology. an organism, usually a bacterium or fungus, that breaks down the cells of dead plants and animals into simpler substances.
1815-25; decompose + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for decomposers
  • Detritivores and decomposers are the final part of food chains.
  • Be sure to point out the role of decomposers and provide examples.
  • Remind students that food chains connect organisms through energy transfer among producers, consumers, and decomposers.
  • Producers are able to utilize the nutrients made by decomposers, so producers are dominant over decomposers.
  • decomposers eat and break down scat, or animal droppings, and dead plants and animals into tiny parts.
  • When these plants and animals die, the decomposers start the cycle again.
  • decomposers, including bacteria and fungi, use dead organisms or their products to meet their energy needs.
  • Walk through our trails and exhibits to identify different kinds of producers, consumers and decomposers.
  • Ultimately, all organisms die and become detritus, which serves as the food source for decomposers.
British Dictionary definitions for decomposers


(ecology) any organism in a community, such as a bacterium or fungus, that breaks down dead tissue enabling the constituents to be recycled to the environment See also consumer (sense 3), producer (sense 8)
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 decomposers



1833, "a decomposing agent," agent noun from decompose.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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decomposers in Science
See detritivore.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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