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[awr-guh-niz-uh m] /ˈɔr gəˌnɪz əm/
a form of life composed of mutually interdependent parts that maintain various vital processes.
a form of life considered as an entity; an animal, plant, fungus, protistan, or moneran.
any organized body or system conceived of as analogous to a living being:
the governmental organism.
any complex thing or system having properties and functions determined not only by the properties and relations of its individual parts, but by the character of the whole that they compose and by the relations of the parts to the whole.
Origin of organism
First recorded in 1655-65; organ + -ism
Related forms
organismic, organismal, adjective
organismically, adverb
superorganism, noun
Can be confused
organism, orgasm.
4. organization, network, entity, structure. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for organism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thus the organism modifies its surroundings, and is in turn modified by them.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • During this period the organism undergoes the most singular metamorphoses.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • He obeyed his instincts, permitting the will of his organism to lead him.

    Therese Raquin Emile Zola
  • Though they may be shorn of their glory, they retain their place in the organism of knowledge.

    Philebus Plato
  • This is not the only way of stimulating the organism, but it seems the most powerful.

British Dictionary definitions for organism


any living biological entity, such as an animal, plant, fungus, or bacterium
anything resembling a living creature in structure, behaviour, etc
Derived Forms
organismal, organismic, adjective
organismally, 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 organism

1660s, "organic structure, organization," from organize + -ism. Sense of "living animal or plant" first recorded 1842. Related: Organismic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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organism in Medicine

organism or·gan·ism (ôr'gə-nĭz'əm)
An individual form of life, such as a plant, an animal, a bacterium, a protist, or a fungus; a body made up of organs, organelles, or other parts that work together to carry on the various processes of life.

or'gan·is'mal (-nĭz'məl) or or'gan·is'mic (-mĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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organism in Science
An individual form of life that is capable of growing, metabolizing nutrients, and usually reproducing. Organisms can be unicellular or multicellular. They are scientifically divided into five different groups (called kingdoms) that include prokaryotes, protists, fungi, plants, and animals, and that are further subdivided based on common ancestry and homology of anatomic and molecular structures.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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