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[pol-ip] /ˈpɒl ɪp/
  1. a sedentary type of animal form characterized by a more or less fixed base, columnar body, and free end with mouth and tentacles, especially as applied to coelenterates.
  2. an individual zooid of a compound or colonial organism.
Pathology. a projecting growth from a mucous surface, as of the nose, being either a tumor or a hypertrophy of the mucous membrane.
Origin of polyp
1350-1400; Middle English polip, short for polipus nasal tumor (later, also cephalopod, now obsolete) < Medieval Latin, Latin pōlypus < dialectal Greek poulýpous octopus, nasal tumor (Attic polýpous, genitive polýpodos; see poly-, -pod)
Related forms
polypous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for polyps
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The first is called the polypidom, the second is the colony of polyps.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • This pore as it opens gives to the polyps the opportunity of coming out.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • Here we leave the group of polyps which form united families.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • The cells, which are the abode of the polyps, are not always alike in their distribution.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • Then one of the polyps becomes enlarged and its form cylindrical.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • The flying fish and the polyps are the habitual prey of the Physalia.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • It feeds on crabs and small fishes, seeking eagerly for polyps.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • Some of the feather-stars are fixed, as the sponges and polyps are.

British Dictionary definitions for polyps


(zoology) one of the two forms of individual that occur in coelenterates. It usually has a hollow cylindrical body with a ring of tentacles around the mouth Compare medusa (sense 2)
(pathol) Also called polypus. a small vascularized growth arising from the surface of a mucous membrane, having a rounded base or a stalklike projection
Derived Forms
polypous, adjective
Word Origin
C16 polip, from French polype nasal polyp, from Latin pōlypus sea animal, nasal polyp, from Greek polupous having many feet
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 polyps



c.1400, "nasal tumor," from Middle French polype and directly from Latin polypus "cuttlefish," also "nasal tumor," from Greek (Doric, Aeolic) polypos "octopus, cuttlefish," from polys "many" (see poly-) + pous "foot" (see foot (n.)). Etymological sense revived 1742 as a name for hydras and sea anemones (earlier polypus, early 16c.). The Latin word is the source of French poulpe "octopus."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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polyps in Medicine

polyp pol·yp (pŏl'ĭp)
A usually nonmalignant growth of tissue protruding from the mucous lining of an organ such as the nose, bladder, or intestine, often causing obstruction. Also called polypus.

pol'yp·oid' 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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polyps in Science
  1. A cnidarian in its sedentary stage. Polyps have hollow, tube-shaped bodies with a central mouth on top surrounded by tentacles. Some cnidarians, such as corals and sea anemones, only exist as polyps after their larval stage, while others turn into medusas as adults or lack a polyp stage completely. Compare medusa.

  2. An abnormal growth extending from a mucous membrane, as of the intestine.

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