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

  1. an organism that uses organic waste as a food source, as certain insects.

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Origin of detritivore

First recorded in 1975–80; detrit(us) + -i- + -vore

Other words from detritivore

  • det·ri·tiv·or·ous [de-truh-tiv-er-uhs], /ˌdɛ trəˈtɪv ər əs/, de·triv·or·ous [dih-triv-er-uhs], /dɪˈtrɪv ər əs/, adjective

Words Nearby detritivore Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Scientific definitions for detritivore


[ dĭ-trītə-vôr′ ]

  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.