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[proh-tuh-plaz-uh m] /ˈproʊ təˌplæz əm/
Biology. (no longer in technical use) the colloidal and liquid substance of which cells are formed, excluding horny, chitinous, and other structural material; the cytoplasm and nucleus.
Obsolete. the living matter of organisms regarded as the physical basis of life, having the ability to sense and conduct stimuli.
Origin of protoplasm
From the New Latin word prōtoplasma, dating back to 1840-50. See proto-, -plasm
Related forms
protoplasmic, protoplasmal, protoplasmatic
[proh-toh-plaz-mat-ik] /ˌproʊ toʊ plæzˈmæt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
interprotoplasmic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for protoplasmic
Historical Examples
  • It was an amoeba, another of those single-celled, protoplasmic mounds of flesh.

  • protoplasmic movements, you know, and unicellular plants and animals.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • If no more protein is being eaten than is necessary for the protoplasmic wastage, these two figures should be about the same.

    Physiology Ernest G. Martin
  • A neurone35 is a protoplasmic cell, with its outgrowing fibers.

    The Mind and Its Education George Herbert Betts
  • There would first obviously appear a vertical furrow at the formative or protoplasmic pole.

  • His cross-eyes, his crooked nose, his artistic talents—all these pre-existed in the form of a protoplasmic cell.

    Reincarnation Swami Abhedananda
  • Some investigators are now inclined to the opinion that protoplasmic continuity may be of universal occurrence in plants.

  • No protoplasmic being could exist under the direct rays of the Blue Sun.

    The Asses of Balaam Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Thus for hours, perhaps, it remained stationary, one of many such rays of some of the many kinds of protoplasmic stars.

    Unconscious Memory Samuel Butler
  • Sulphur serves mainly as a constituent of protein compounds in the protoplasmic structure.

    The Fundamentals of Bacteriology Charles Bradfield Morrey
British Dictionary definitions for protoplasmic


(biology) the living contents of a cell, differentiated into cytoplasm and nucleoplasm
Derived Forms
protoplasmic, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin, from proto- + Greek plasma form
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 protoplasmic



1848, from German Protoplasma (1846), used by German botanist Hugo von Mohl (1805-1872), on notion of "first-formed," from Greek proto- "first" (see proto-) + plasma "something molded" (see -plasm).

The word was in Late Latin with a sense of "first created thing," and it might have existed in ecclesiastical Greek in a different sense. It was used 1839 by Czech physiologist Johannes Evangelista Purkinje (1787-1869) to denote the gelatinous fluid found in living tissue. The modern meaning is a refinement of this. This word prevailed, though German language purists preferred Urschleim "original mucus."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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protoplasmic in Medicine

protoplasm pro·to·plasm (prō'tə-plāz'əm)
The complex, semifluid, translucent substance that constitutes the living matter of plant and animal cells and manifests the essential life functions of a cell. Composed of proteins, fats, and other molecules suspended in water, it includes the nucleus and cytoplasm.

pro'to·plas'mic (-plāz'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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protoplasmic in Science
The semifluid, translucent substance that forms the living matter in all plant and animal cells. Composed of proteins, fats, and other substances suspended in water, it includes the cytoplasm and (in eukaryotes) the nucleus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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protoplasmic in Culture
protoplasm [(proh-tuh-plaz-uhm)]

The jellylike material in a cell, both inside and outside the nucleus, where the chemical reactions that support life take place.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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