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[par-uh-sahy-tiz-uh m, -si-] /ˈpær ə saɪˌtɪz əm, -sɪ-/
Biology. a relation between organisms in which one lives as a parasite on another.
a parasitic mode of life or existence.
Pathology. a diseased condition due to parasites.
  1. unemployment or refusal to work.
  2. employment in work considered nonessential by the state.
Origin of parasitism
1605-15; parasite + -ism
Related forms
nonparasitism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for parasitism
Historical Examples
  • I should be reduced to the gloomy lucubrations of a Schopenhauer if I once let myself begin on parasitism.

    The Mason-bees J. Henri Fabre
  • Yet, though he thought it not, this is parasitism in its worst and most degrading form.

  • It is based on competitive anarchy and parasitism—the evidences of a defective social organization.

    Communism and Christianism William Montgomery Brown
  • Need we proceed to formulate objections to the parasitism of Evangelicism?

  • Monks and capitalists have this in common, that they are natives of the realm of parasitism.

    Communism and Christianism William Montgomery Brown
  • A symbiote—and Dis was the world where symbiosis and parasitism had become more advanced and complex than on any other planet.

    Planet of the Damned Harry Harrison
  • The conventions of the business world have grown up under the selective surveillance of this principle of predation or parasitism.

  • So far from ministering to holiness, that is to wholeness, parasitism ministers to exactly the opposite.

  • But to jump out of parasitism into Socialism would be jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire.

    The Inhumanity of Socialism Edward F. Adams
  • So from him that hath not, is taken away that which he hath, and after a few years of parasitism there is nothing left to save.

British Dictionary definitions for parasitism


the relationship between a parasite and its host
the state of being infested with parasites
the state of being a parasite
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 parasitism

1610s, from parasite + -ism. Biological sense is from 1853.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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parasitism in Medicine

parasitism par·a·sit·ism (pār'ə-sĭ-tĭz'əm, -sī-)
A symbiotic relationship in which one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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parasitism in Science
A symbiotic relationship in which one organism (the parasite) benefits and the other (the host) is generally harmed. Parasites derive nutrition from their host and may also gain other benefits such as shelter and a habitat in which to grow and reproduce. See more at parasite. Compare amensalism, commensalism, mutualism.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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