Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

The Best Internet Slang

phylum

[fahy-luh m] /ˈfaɪ ləm/
noun, plural phyla
[fahy-luh] /ˈfaɪ lə/ (Show IPA)
1.
Biology. the primary subdivision of a taxonomic kingdom, grouping together all classes of organisms that have the same body plan.
2.
Linguistics. a category consisting of language stocks that, because of cognates in vocabulary, are considered likely to be related by common origin.
Compare stock (def 13).
Origin of phylum
1875-1880
1875-80; < New Latin < Greek phŷlon tribe, stock; see phylon
Related forms
phylar, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for phylum
Historical Examples
  • Little by little the phylum has been shorn of orders and classes.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • Luminescence is more widespread in this phylum and more characteristic of the group as a whole than any other.

    The Nature of Animal Light E. Newton Harvey
  • Hence these five backboned classes may be brought together into a higher group called a branch or phylum.

  • The higher animals begin with the twelfth phylum, namely, the Chordata, or vertebrates.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • The phylum also includes, as one of its large suborders, all the snails and slugs that are to be found crawling upon the land.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • We may profitably use it only as a lay figurea sort of manikin, which will introduce us to the phylum.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • As a class it possesses all the most characteristic features of the phylum, though it is frequently modified in a high degree.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • Next to the Gasteropoda, it is the largest class of the phylum in number of genera and species.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • The archetype of the genus, family, order, class and phylum was thus conceived to have had at some past time a real existence.

    Form and Function E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell
  • Nor is this hiatus confined to the Molluscan phylum; it is the same for all branches of the animal kingdom.

    Form and Function E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell
British Dictionary definitions for phylum

phylum

/ˈfaɪləm/
noun (pl) -la (-lə)
1.
a major taxonomic division of living organisms that contain one or more classes. An example is the phylum Arthropoda (insects, crustaceans, arachnids, etc, and myriapods)
2.
any analogous group, such as a group of related language families or linguistic stocks
Word Origin
C19: New Latin, from Greek phulon race
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for phylum
n.

"division of the plant or animal kingdom," 1868, Modern Latin, coined by French naturalist Georges Léopole Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert, Baron Cuvier (1769-1832) from Greek phylon "race, stock," related to phyle "tribe, clan" (see physic). The immediate source of the English word probably is from German.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
phylum in Medicine

phylum phy·lum (fī'ləm)
n. pl. phy·la (-lə)
A taxonomic category that is a primary division of a kingdom and ranks above a class in size.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
phylum in Science
phylum
  (fī'ləm)   
Plural phyla
A group of organisms ranking above a class and below a kingdom. See Table at taxonomy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
phylum in Culture
phylum [(feye-luhm)]

plur. phyla

One of the major divisions of the kingdoms of living things; the second-largest standard unit of biological classification. The arthropods, chordates, and mollusks are phyla. Phyla in the plant kingdom are frequently called divisions. (See Linnean classification.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for phylum

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for phylum

16
18
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for phylum