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[fag-uh-sahyt] /ˈfæg əˌsaɪt/
noun, Cell Biology.
any cell, as a macrophage, that ingests and destroys foreign particles, bacteria, and cell debris.
Origin of phagocyte
First recorded in 1880-85; phago- + -cyte
Related forms
[fag-uh-sit-ik] /ˌfæg əˈsɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
nonphagocytic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for phagocytic


an amoeboid cell or protozoan that engulfs particles, such as food substances or invading microorganisms
Derived Forms
phagocytic (ˌfæɡəˈsɪtɪk) 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 phagocytic



1884, from German phagocyten (plural), coined in German in 1884 by Dr. Elias Metchnikoff (1845-1916) from Greek phago- "eating, devouring" (see -phagous) + -cyte (see cyto-). Related: Phagocytosis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phagocytic in Medicine

phagocytic phag·o·cyt·ic (fāg'ə-sĭt'ĭk)

  1. Of or relating to phagocytes.

  2. Of, relating to, or characterized by phagocytosis.

phagocyte phag·o·cyte (fāg'ə-sīt')
A cell, such as a white blood cell, that engulfs and absorbs waste material, harmful microorganisms, or other foreign bodies in the bloodstream and tissues.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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phagocytic in Science
Any of various organisms or specialized cells that engulf and ingest other cells or particles. In vertebrate animals, phagocytes are white blood cells that break down bacteria and other microorganisms, foreign particles, and cellular debris. These include monocytes, macrophages, and most granulocytes. ◇ The process by which phagocytes engulf and break down bacteria or particles is called phagocytosis (fāg'ə-sī-tō'sĭs). During phagocytosis the cell encloses foreign material and the extracellular fluid surrounding it by an infolding of a part of the cell membrane, which then pinches off to form a vesicle, called a phagosome. The phagosomes fuse with lysosomes, resulting in digestion of the ingested matter. Unicellular protists such as amoebas ingest food by the process of phagocytosis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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