[ mer-uh-stem ]
/ ˈmɛr əˌstɛm /

noun Botany.

embryonic tissue in plants; undifferentiated, growing, actively dividing cells.

Nearby words

  1. meringue,
  2. merino,
  3. merionethshire,
  4. merisis,
  5. merism,
  6. meristematic,
  7. meristic,
  8. merit,
  9. merit badge,
  10. merit pay

Origin of meristem

1870–75; < Greek merist(ós) divided, distributed (equivalent to *merid-, stem of merízein to divide into parts (derivative of méris part, share) + -tos verbal adjective suffix) + -em < Greek -ēma termination of nouns denoting result of action; cf. -eme Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for meristem


/ (ˈmɛrɪˌstɛm) /


a plant tissue responsible for growth, whose cells divide and differentiate to form the tissues and organs of the plant. Meristems occur within the stem (see cambium) and leaves and at the tips of stems and roots
Derived Formsmeristematic (ˌmɛrɪstɪˈmætɪk), adjective

Word Origin for meristem

C19: from Greek meristos divided, from merizein to divide, from meris portion

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

Word Origin and History for meristem



"growing cellular tissues of plants," 1862, formed irregularly from Greek meristos "divided, divisible" (from merizein "to divide, distribute," from meros "a part, a share;" see merit (n.)) + ending from xylem, etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for meristem


[ mĕrĭ-stĕm′ ]

Plant tissue whose cells actively divide to form new tissues that cause the plant to grow. The originally undifferentiated cells of the meristem can produce specialized cells to form the tissues of roots, leaves, and other plant parts. The meristem includes the growing tips of roots and stems (the apical meristems) and the tissue layer known as cambium.
Related formsmeristematic adjective (mĕr′ĭ-stə-mătĭk)

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for meristem


[ (mer-i-stem) ]

The region on a plant where division of cells (and hence growth) occurs. Usually, meristems are found in the shoots and root tips, and places where branches meet the stem. In trees, growth occurs in the cambium — the layer just beneath the bark.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.