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[op-er-too-nis-tik, -tyoo-] /ˌɒp ər tuˈnɪs tɪk, -tyu-/
adhering to a policy of opportunism; practicing opportunism.
  1. (of a microorganism) causing disease only under certain conditions, as when a person's immune system is impaired.
  2. (of a disease or infection) caused by such an organism:
    Pneumocystis pneumonia is an opportunistic disease that often strikes victims of AIDS.
Origin of opportunistic
1890-95; opportunist + -ic
Related forms
opportunistically, adverb
unopportunistic, adjective
Can be confused
opportune, opportunistic (see synonym study at opportune) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for opportunistic
  • As the cell count drops, the immune system begins to fail and opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis take hold.
  • Today's threats come from reckless tourists, opportunistic developers, an indifferent public and the ravages of nature.
  • The grays are opportunistic feeders, they say, which makes them better candidates to adapt to the changing climate.
  • It's a free country people have the freedom to be cold, opportunistic and shameless.
  • The problem comes because a new and uncertain threat has provided cover for legitimate and opportunistic measures alike.
  • He is worried that some will see his decision to go public as opportunistic.
  • Many were arrested wrongly or turned in by opportunistic bounty hunters.
  • He was brilliant, arrogant but completely opportunistic.
  • It comes in three main forms, of which two are easy and opportunistic, and one is difficult and far-reaching.
  • It is mostly opportunistic and suspicions tends to fall on the growing community of slum-dwellers.
British Dictionary definitions for opportunistic


of or characterized by opportunism
(med) (of an infection) caused by any microorganism that is harmless to a healthy person but debilitates a person whose immune system has been weakened by disease or drug treatment
Derived Forms
opportunistically, 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 opportunistic

1889, see opportunist + -ic. Related: Opportunistically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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opportunistic in Medicine

opportunistic op·por·tun·is·tic (ŏp'ər-tōō-nĭs'tĭk, -tyōō-)

  1. Of or relating to an organism capable of causing disease only in a host whose resistance is lowered.

  2. Of or relating to a disease caused by an opportunistic organism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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