[ proh-kar-ee-oht, -ee-uht ]

  1. 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.

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
  • Sometimes pro·car·y·ote .

Other words from prokaryote

  • pro·kar·y·ot·ic, pro·car·y·ot·ic [proh-kar-ee-ot-ik], /proʊˌkær iˈɒt ɪk/, adjective

Words Nearby prokaryote Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use prokaryote in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for prokaryote



/ (prəʊˈkærɪɒt) /

  1. 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 prokaryotes: Compare eukaryote

Origin of prokaryote

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

Derived forms of prokaryote

  • prokaryotic or procaryotic (prəʊˌkærɪˈɒtɪk), 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

Scientific definitions for prokaryote


[ prō-kărē-ōt′ ]

  1. 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.