[ proh-kar-ee-oht, -ee-uht ]
/ proʊˈkær iˌoʊt, -i ət /
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noun Biology.
any cellular organism that has no nuclear membrane, no organelles in the cytoplasm except ribosomes, and has its genetic material in the form of single continuous strands forming coils or loops, characteristic of all organisms in the kingdom Monera, as the bacteria.
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Sometimes pro·car·y·ote .
Compare eukaryote.

Origin of prokaryote

First recorded in 1960–65; from French procaryote, from New Latin Prokaryota (neuter plural), from Greek pro- prefix + Greek káry(on) “nut” + -ote; see pro-2, Eukaryota


pro·kar·y·ot·ic, pro·car·y·ot·ic [proh-kar-ee-ot-ik], /proʊˌkær iˈɒt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use prokaryote in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for prokaryote



/ (prəʊˈkærɪɒt) /

any organism having cells in each of which the genetic material is in a single DNA chain, not enclosed in a nucleus. Bacteria and archaeans are prokaryotesCompare eukaryote

Derived forms of prokaryote

prokaryotic or procaryotic (prəʊˌkærɪˈɒtɪk), adjective

Word Origin for prokaryote

from pro- ² + karyo- + -ote as in zygote
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

Medical definitions for prokaryote


An organism of the kingdom Prokaryotae, constituting the bacteria and cyanobacteria, characterized by the absence of a nuclear membrane and by DNA that is not organized into chromosomes.

Other words from prokaryote

pro•kar′y•otic (-ŏtĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for prokaryote

[ prō-kărē-ōt′ ]

Any of a wide variety of one-celled organisms of the kingdom Monera (or Prokaryota) that are the most primitive and ancient known forms of life. Prokaryotes lack a distinct cell nucleus and their DNA is not organized into chromosomes. They also lack the internal structures bound by membranes called organelles, such as mitochondria. At the molecular level, prokaryotes differ from eukaryotes in the structure of their lipids and of certain metabolic enzymes, and in how genes are expressed for protein synthesis. Prokaryotes reproduce asexually and include the bacteria and blue-green algae. Also called moneran Compare eukaryote. See Table at taxonomy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.