[ kuh-men-suh l ]
/ kəˈmɛn səl /


eating together at the same table.
Ecology. (of an animal, plant, fungus, etc.) living with, on, or in another, without injury to either.
Sociology. (of a person or group) not competing while residing in or occupying the same area as another individual or group having independent or different values or customs.


a companion at table.
Ecology. a commensal organism.

Nearby words

  1. commend,
  2. commendable,
  3. commendam,
  4. commendation,
  5. commendatory,
  6. commensalism,
  7. commensurable,
  8. commensurate,
  9. comment,
  10. commentariat

Origin of commensal

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English word from Medieval Latin word commēnsālis. See com-, mensal2

Related formscom·men·sal·ism, nouncom·men·sal·i·ty [kom-en-sal-i-tee] /ˌkɒm ɛnˈsæl ɪ ti/, nouncom·men·sal·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for commensal

British Dictionary definitions for commensal


/ (kəˈmɛnsəl) /


(of two different species of plant or animal) living in close association, such that one species benefits without harming the other
rare of or relating to eating together, esp at the same tablecommensal pleasures


a commensal plant or animal
rare a companion at table
Derived Formscommensalism, nouncommensality (ˌkɒmɛnˈsælɪtɪ), nouncommensally, adverb

Word Origin for commensal

C14: from Medieval Latin commensālis, from Latin com- together + mensa table

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

Word Origin and History for commensal



"one who eats at the same table" (as another), c.1400, from Old French commensal (15c.), from Medieval Latin commensalis, from com- "together" (see com-) + mensa (genitive mensalis) "table" (see mesa). Biological sense attested from 1870.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for commensal


[ kə-mĕnsəl ]


Of, relating to, or characterized by a symbiotic relationship in which one species is benefited while the other is unaffected.


An organism participating in a symbiotic relationship in which one species derives some benefit while the other is unaffected.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.