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[het-er-uh-trof-ik, -troh-fik] /ˌhɛt ər əˈtrɒf ɪk, -ˈtroʊ fɪk/
adjective, Biology.
capable of utilizing only organic materials as a source of food.
Origin of heterotrophic
First recorded in 1890-95; hetero- + -trophic Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for heterotrophic
Historical Examples
  • Should the compound be inorganic, the term autotrophic is applied to the organism and heterotrophic if the compound is organic.

    The Fundamentals of Bacteriology Charles Bradfield Morrey
British Dictionary definitions for heterotrophic


(of organisms, such as animals) obtaining carbon for growth and energy from complex organic compounds Compare autotrophic
Derived Forms
heterotroph, noun
Word Origin
C20: from hetero- + Greek trophikos concerning food, from trophē nourishment
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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heterotrophic in Science
An organism that cannot manufacture its own food and instead obtains its food and energy by taking in organic substances, usually plant or animal matter. All animals, protozoans, fungi, and most bacteria are heterotrophs. Compare autotroph.

heterotrophic adjective (hět'ər-ə-trŏf'ĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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