• synonyms


[ plangk-tuh n ]
/ ˈplæŋk tən /


the aggregate of passively floating, drifting, or somewhat motile organisms occurring in a body of water, primarily comprising microscopic algae and protozoa.

Nearby words

plank floor, plank-sheer, planking, plankter, planktology, plankton, planktonic, planned, planned economy, planned obsolescence, planned parenthood

Origin of plankton

1890–95; < German, special use of neuter of Greek planktós drifting, equivalent to plang-, variant stem of plázesthai to drift, roam, wander + -tos verbid suffix
Related formsplank·ton·ic [plangk-ton-ik] /plæŋkˈtɒn ɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for plankton

British Dictionary definitions for plankton


/ (ˈplæŋktən) /


the organisms inhabiting the surface layer of a sea or lake, consisting of small drifting plants and animals, such as diatomsCompare nekton
Derived Formsplanktonic (plæŋkˈtɒnɪk), adjective

Word Origin for plankton

C19: via German from Greek planktos wandering, from plazesthai to roam
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 plankton


[ plăngktən ]

Small organisms that float or drift in great numbers in bodies of salt or fresh water. Plankton is a primary food source for many animals, and consists of bacteria, protozoans, certain algae, cnidarians, tiny crustaceans such as copepods, and many other organisms. Compare benthos nekton.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.