plankton

[plangk-tuh n]
noun
  1. the aggregate of passively floating, drifting, or somewhat motile organisms occurring in a body of water, primarily comprising microscopic algae and protozoa.

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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for planktonic

plankton

noun
  1. 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

Word Origin and History for planktonic

plankton

n.

1891, from German Plankton (1887), coined by German physiologist Viktor Hensen (1835-1924) from Greek plankton, neuter of planktos "wandering, drifting," verbal adjective from plazesthai "to wander, drift," from plazein "to drive astray," from PIE root *plak- (2) "to strike, hit" (see plague (n.)). Related: Planktonic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

planktonic in Science

plankton

[plăngktən]
  1. 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.