• synonyms


noun Cell Biology.
  1. any cell, as a macrophage, that ingests and destroys foreign particles, bacteria, and cell debris.
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Origin of phagocyte

First recorded in 1880–85; phago- + -cyte
Related formsphag·o·cyt·ic [fag-uh-sit-ik] /ˌfæg əˈsɪt ɪk/, adjectivenon·phag·o·cyt·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for phagocytic

Historical Examples of phagocytic

  • Phagocytic action is promoted by an increase in the leucocytes.

    The Propaganda for Reform in Proprietary Medicines, Vol. 1 of 2


  • Some of the reasons for this are as follows: The limit of error in phagocytic counts may be as great as 50 per cent.

    The Fundamentals of Bacteriology

    Charles Bradfield Morrey

  • In incipient cases the tubercles might be as readily absorbed as catgut ligature, and the germs, if any, fall to phagocytic prey.

  • Phagocytic cells are almost always present and may be of the “wandering” or of the more fixed connective-tissue type.

    Scurvy Past and Present

    Alfred Fabian Hess

  • Again, the function of this mesothelium apart from the germ-cell is essentially excretory and phagocytic.

    The Origin of Vertebrates

    Walter Holbrook Gaskell

British Dictionary definitions for phagocytic


  1. an amoeboid cell or protozoan that engulfs particles, such as food substances or invading microorganisms
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Derived Formsphagocytic (ˌfæɡəˈsɪtɪk), adjective
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 phagocytic



1884, from German phagocyten (plural), coined in German in 1884 by Dr. Elias Metchnikoff (1845-1916) from Greek phago- "eating, devouring" (see -phagous) + -cyte (see cyto-). Related: Phagocytosis.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

phagocytic in Medicine


  1. Of or relating to phagocytes.
  2. Of, relating to, or characterized by phagocytosis.
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  1. A cell, such as a white blood cell, that engulfs and absorbs waste material, harmful microorganisms, or other foreign bodies in the bloodstream and tissues.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

phagocytic in Science


  1. Any of various organisms or specialized cells that engulf and ingest other cells or particles. In vertebrate animals, phagocytes are white blood cells that break down bacteria and other microorganisms, foreign particles, and cellular debris. These include monocytes, macrophages, and most granulocytes.♦ The process by which phagocytes engulf and break down bacteria or particles is called phagocytosis (făg′ə-sī-tōsĭs). During phagocytosis the cell encloses foreign material and the extracellular fluid surrounding it by an infolding of a part of the cell membrane, which then pinches off to form a vesicle, called a phagosome. The phagosomes fuse with lysosomes, resulting in digestion of the ingested matter. Unicellular protists such as amoebas ingest food by the process of phagocytosis.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.