• synonyms


[nek-ton, -tuh n]
  1. the aggregate of actively swimming aquatic organisms in a body of water, able to move independently of water currents.
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Origin of nekton

1890–95; < German, noun use of neuter of nēktós swimming (verbid of nḗchein to swim; see nectopod)
Related formsnek·ton·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nekton

Historical Examples of nekton

  • Strong swimming animals which move about at will are nekton.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide

    Augusta Foote Arnold

  • The animals of the open sea are conveniently divided into the active swimmers (Nekton) and the more passive drifters (Plankton).

British Dictionary definitions for nekton


  1. the population of free-swimming animals that inhabits the middle depths of a sea or lakeCompare plankton
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Derived Formsnektonic, adjective

Word Origin for nekton

C19: via German from Greek nēkton a swimming thing, from nēkhein to swim
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 nekton

1893, from German nekton (van Heusen, 1890), from Greek nekton, neuter of nektos "swimming," from nekhein "to swim" (see natatorium).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nekton in Science


[nĕktən, -tŏn′]
  1. The collection of marine and freshwater organisms that can swim freely and are generally independent of currents, ranging in size from microscopic organisms to whales. Compare benthos plankton.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.