[ het-er-uh-trof-ik, -troh-fik ]
/ ˌhɛt ər əˈtrɒf ɪk, -ˈtroʊ fɪk /

adjective Biology.

capable of utilizing only organic materials as a source of food.

Nearby words

  1. heterotransplant,
  2. heterotransplantation,
  3. heterotrich,
  4. heterotrichosis,
  5. heterotroph,
  6. heterotropia,
  7. heterotypic,
  8. heterotypic cortex,
  9. heterotypical chromosome,
  10. heteroxanthine

Origin of heterotrophic

First recorded in 1890–95; hetero- + -trophic

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for heterotrophic

  • Should the compound be inorganic, the term autotrophic is applied to the organism and heterotrophic if the compound is organic.

    The Fundamentals of Bacteriology|Charles Bradfield Morrey

British Dictionary definitions for heterotrophic


/ (ˌhɛtərəʊˈtrɒfɪk) /


(of organisms, such as animals) obtaining carbon for growth and energy from complex organic compoundsCompare autotrophic
Derived Formsheterotroph, noun

Word Origin for heterotrophic

C20: from hetero- + Greek trophikos concerning food, from trophē nourishment

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

Science definitions for heterotrophic


[ 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.