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dinoflagellate

[ din-uh-flaj-uh-leyt ]

noun

  1. any of numerous chiefly marine plankton of the phylum Pyrrophyta (or, in some classification schemes, the order Dinoflagellata), usually having two flagella, one in a groove around the body and the other extending from its center.


dinoflagellate

/ -ˌleɪt; ˌdaɪnəʊˈflædʒɪlɪt /

noun

  1. any of a group of unicellular biflagellate aquatic organisms forming a constituent of plankton: now usually classified as a phylum of protoctists ( Dinoflagellata )


adjective

  1. of or relating to dinoflagellates

dinoflagellate

/ dī′nō-flăjə-lĭt /

  1. Any of numerous one-celled organisms found mostly in the ocean, usually having two flagella of unequal length and often an armorlike covering of cellulose. Dinoflagellates are one of the main components of plankton. Since dinoflagellates have characteristics of both plants and animals, their classification is controversial.
  2. See more at red tide


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Pronunciation Note

At first glance, it would seem that dinoflagellates are related to dinosaurs, at least with respect to their names. Despite both words beginning with the spelling dino-, however, their etymologies and pronunciations are very different—as are their sizes! The first part of dinosaur comes from the Greek root deinós (“terrifying, frightful”) and is pronounced [dahy, -n, uh, ‐]. Dinoflagellate gets its start from the completely different Greek root dînos (“whirling, rotation”), and is pronounced [din-, uh, ‐]. With a characteristic corkscrew motion producing a spiral path, the microscopic dinoflagellate is really not terrifying at all.
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Word History and Origins

Origin of dinoflagellate1

First recorded in 1900–05; from Greek dînos “rotation, whirling” + flagellate
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Word History and Origins

Origin of dinoflagellate1

C19: from New Latin Dinoflagellata, from Greek dinos whirling + flagellum + -ate 1
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Example Sentences

In fossil deposits from the PETM, paleontologists have found that dinoflagellates—tiny organisms that ooze toxins and can create deadly algal blooms called “red tides”—flourished in the nearly 100°F surface water of the equator.

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