[ het-er-uh-trof, -trohf ]
/ ˈhɛt ər əˌtrɒf, -ˌtroʊf /


Biology. an organism requiring organic compounds for its principal source of food.
Compare autotroph.

Origin of heterotroph

First recorded in 1895–1900; hetero- + -troph
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Word Origin and History for heterotroph



1900, from hetero- + Greek trophos "feeder" (see -trophy). Related: Heterotrophic (1893).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for heterotroph


[ hĕtər-ə-trŏf′, -trōf′ ]


An organism that cannot synthesize its own food and is dependent upon complex organic substances for nutrition.
Related formshet′er•o•trophic (-trŏfĭk, -trōfĭk) adj.het′er•otro•phy (-ə-rŏtrə-fē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for heterotroph


[ hĕtər-ə-trŏf′ ]

An organism that cannot manufacture its own food and instead obtains its food and energy by taking in organic substances, usually plant or animal matter. All animals, protozoans, fungi, and most bacteria are heterotrophs. Compare autotroph.
Related formsheterotrophic adjective (hĕt′ər-ə-trŏfĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.