[ fag-uh-sahyt ]
/ ˈfæg əˌsaɪt /

noun Cell Biology.

any cell, as a macrophage, that ingests and destroys foreign particles, bacteria, and cell debris.

Nearby words

  1. phaeton,
  2. phage,
  3. phagedaena,
  4. phagedena,
  5. phago-,
  6. phagocytic,
  7. phagocytic index,
  8. phagocytic pneumonocyte,
  9. phagocytin,
  10. phagocytize

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

Examples from the Web for phagocytic

British Dictionary definitions for phagocytic


/ (ˈfæɡəˌsaɪt) /


an amoeboid cell or protozoan that engulfs particles, such as food substances or invading microorganisms
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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for phagocytic


[ făg′ə-sĭtĭk ]


Of or relating to phagocytes.
Of, relating to, or characterized by phagocytosis.


[ făgə-sīt′ ]


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.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for phagocytic


[ făgə-sīt′ ]

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