[dih-trahy-tuh-vawr, -vohr]

Origin of detritivore

First recorded in 1975–80; detrit(us) + -i- + -vore
Related formsdet·ri·tiv·or·ous [de-truh-tiv-er-uh s] /ˌdɛ trəˈtɪv ər əs/, de·triv·or·ous [dih-triv-er-uh s] /dɪˈtrɪv ər əs/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

detritivore in Science


  1. An organism that feeds on and breaks down dead plant or animal matter, returning essential nutrients to the ecosystem. Detritivores include microorganisms such as bacteria and protists as well as larger organisms such as fungi, insects, worms, and isopod crustaceans. In a food chain, detritivores are primary consumers. Compare carnivore herbivore.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.