[ sist ]
/ sɪst /
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Pathology. a closed, bladderlike sac formed in animal tissues, containing fluid or semifluid matter.
a bladder, sac, or vesicle.
Botany, Mycology.
  1. a sporelike cell with a resistant, protective wall.
  2. a cell or cavity enclosing reproductive bodies.
  1. a sac, usually spherical, surrounding an animal that has passed into a dormant condition.
  2. such a sac plus the contained animal.
  3. a capsule or resistant covering.
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Origin of cyst

1705–15; <New Latin cystis<Greek kýstis bag, pouch, the bladder; akin to kŷmacyma

Other definitions for cyst (2 of 3)


variant of cysto-, before a vowel: cystectomy.

Other definitions for cyst (3 of 3)


variant of cysto-, as final element in a compound word: statocyst.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does -cyst mean?

The combining form -cyst is used like a suffix meaning “cyst,” which is a scientific term for a bladder, sac, or vesicle. It is often used in scientific terms, especially in biology.

The form -cyst comes from Greek kýstis, meaning “bag,” “pouch,” or “bladder.”

What are variants of -cyst?

When used as a prefix, the combining form -cyst variously becomes cyst-, cysti-, or cysto- (as in cystoma). Want to know more? Read our Words That Use articles for these forms.

Examples of -cyst

An example of a scientific term that features the form -cyst is macrocyst, “a large cyst or spore case.”

The form macro- may look familiar; it means “large,” from Greek makrós. As we have seen, -cyst means “cyst.” Macrocyst literally translates to “large cyst.”

What are some words that use the combining form -cyst?

What are some other forms that -cyst may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The combining form tricho- means “hair.” With this in mind, what is a trichocyst?

How to use cyst in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cyst (1 of 2)

/ (sɪst) /

pathol any abnormal membranous sac or blisterlike pouch containing fluid or semisolid material
anatomy any normal sac or vesicle in the body
a thick-walled protective membrane enclosing a cell, larva, or organism

Word Origin for cyst

C18: from New Latin cystis, from Greek kustis pouch, bag, bladder

British Dictionary definitions for cyst (2 of 2)


n combining form
indicating a bladder or sacotocyst

Word Origin for -cyst

from Greek kustis bladder
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

Scientific definitions for cyst

[ sĭst ]

An abnormal membranous sac in the body, containing a gaseous, liquid, or semisolid substance.
A small, capsulelike form of certain organisms that develops in response to adverse or extreme conditions. Under adverse conditions, for instance, dinoflagellates form nonmotile resting cysts that fall to the ocean or lake bottom and can remain there for years before reviving. Certain invertebrates, such as the water bear (phylum Tardigrada), also develop cysts.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for cyst

[ (sist) ]

An abnormal saclike structure that develops in the body and is filled with fluid or semisolid material.

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