Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[proh-tist] /ˈproʊ tɪst/
any of various one-celled organisms, classified in the kingdom Protista, that are either free-living or aggregated into simple colonies and that have diverse reproductive and nutritional modes, including the protozoans, eukaryotic algae, and slime molds: some classification schemes also include the fungi and the more primitive bacteria and blue-green algae or may distribute the organisms between the kingdoms Plantae and Animalia according to dominant characteristics.
Origin of protist
1885-90; < New Latin Protista (neuter plural) name of the kingdom < Greek prṓtistos (masculine singular) the very first, superlative of prôtos first; see proto-
Related forms
[proh-tis-tuh n] /proʊˈtɪs tən/ (Show IPA),
adjective, noun
protistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for protists
Historical Examples
  • The great majority of the protists have the appearance of real, nucleated cells.

    The Wonders of Life Ernst Haeckel
  • (1894 protists and Plants, 1895 Vertebrates, 1896 Invertebrates).

    Darwin and Modern Science A.C. Seward and Others
  • Human psychology is inseparably connected with comparative animal psychology, and this again with that of the plants and protists.

    The Wonders of Life Ernst Haeckel
  • It is only in the case of the protists that the morphological unity is bound up with the physiological.

    The Wonders of Life Ernst Haeckel
  • This monogenetic propagation is very common among the protists, both protophyta and protozoa.

    The Wonders of Life Ernst Haeckel
  • It seems desirable to do the same for the science of the protists, or unicellular organisms.

    The Wonders of Life Ernst Haeckel
British Dictionary definitions for protists


(in some classification systems) any organism belonging to the kingdom Protista, originally including bacteria, protozoans, algae, and fungi, regarded as distinct from plants and animals. It was later restricted to protozoans, unicellular algae, and simple fungi See also protoctist
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin Protista most primitive organisms, from Greek prōtistos the very first, from prōtos first
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 protists



1869, from Modern Latin Protista (German Protisten, Haeckel, 1868), from Greek neuter plural of protistos "the very first," superlative of protos "first" (see proto-).

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

protist pro·tist (prō'tĭst)
A unicellular, eukaroytic organism belonging to the former taxonomic kingdom Protista.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
protists in Science
Any of a large variety of usually one-celled organisms belonging to the kingdom Protista (or Protoctista). Protists are eukaryotes and live in water or in watery tissues of organisms. Some protists resemble plants in that they produce their own food by photosynthesis, while others resemble animals in consuming organic matter for food. Protist cells are often structurally much more elaborate than the cells of multicellular plants and animals. Protists include the protozoans, most algae, diatoms, oomycetes, and the slime molds. Also called protoctist. See Table at taxonomy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for protists

Difficulty index for protist

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for protists

Scrabble Words With Friends