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[nem-uh-tuh-sist, ni-mat-uh-] /ˈnɛm ə təˌsɪst, nɪˈmæt ə-/
noun, Zoology
an organ in coelenterates consisting of a minute capsule containing an ejectable thread that causes a sting.
Origin of nematocyst
1870-75; nemato- + -cyst
Related forms
nematocystic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for nematocyst


/ˈnɛmətəˌsɪst; nɪˈmætə-/
a structure in coelenterates, such as jellyfish, consisting of a capsule containing a hollow coiled thread that can be everted to sting or paralyse prey and enemies
Derived Forms
nematocystic, adjective
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 nematocyst

1875, from nemato-, comb. form of Greek nema, nematos "thread" (genitive nematos), from stem of nein "to spin" (see needle (n.)) + cyst.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nematocyst in Medicine

nematocyst nem·a·to·cyst (něm'ə-tə-sĭst', nə-māt'ə-)
A capsule within specialized cells of certain coelenterates containing a barbed, threadlike tube that delivers a paralyzing sting.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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nematocyst in Science
  (něm'ə-tə-sĭst', nĭ-māt'ə-sĭst')   
One of the minute capsules in the tentacles of cnidarians, such as jellyfish, hydras, or sea anemones, used for stinging. The capsule is produced by a special cell (called a cnidoblast) and contains a tightly coiled barbed thread that quickly shoots forth if the capsule's lid is disturbed. The thread often contains poison.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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