[ proh-tuh-plaz-uhm ]
See synonyms for protoplasm on
  1. Biology. (no longer in technical use) the colloidal and liquid substance of which cells are formed, excluding horny, chitinous, and other structural material; the cytoplasm and nucleus.

  2. Obsolete. the living matter of organisms regarded as the physical basis of life, having the ability to sense and conduct stimuli.

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Origin of protoplasm

From the New Latin word prōtoplasma, dating back to 1840–50. See proto-, -plasm

Other words from protoplasm

  • pro·to·plas·mic, pro·to·plas·mal, pro·to·plas·mat·ic [proh-toh-plaz-mat-ik], /ˌproʊ toʊ plæzˈmæt ɪk/, adjective
  • in·ter·pro·to·plas·mic, adjective

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

How to use protoplasm in a sentence

  • He was not one of the little pieces of protoplasm running along with the herd.

  • Let us suppose its first connection with vitality to be in the simplest form of animated matter—that of the protoplasm.

    Gospel Philosophy | J. H. Ward
  • Ages ago, when we were amœbæ or little drops of protoplasm, we had no eyes or nose or separate stomach for digesting food.

    The Treatment of Hay Fever | George Frederick Laidlaw
  • In these higher animals this protoplasm is known as germplasm, that in body cells as somatoplasm.

    Taboo and Genetics | Melvin Moses Knight, Iva Lowther Peters, and Phyllis Mary Blanchard
  • Man and his civilization are held suspended in protoplasm and sunlight.

    The Arena | Various

British Dictionary definitions for protoplasm


/ (ˈprəʊtəˌplæzəm) /

  1. biology the living contents of a cell, differentiated into cytoplasm and nucleoplasm

Origin of protoplasm

C19: from New Latin, from proto- + Greek plasma form

Derived forms of protoplasm

  • protoplasmic, 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 protoplasm


[ prōtə-plăz′əm ]

  1. The semifluid, translucent substance that forms the living matter in all plant and animal cells. Composed of proteins, fats, and other substances suspended in water, it includes the cytoplasm and (in eukaryotes) the nucleus.

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

Cultural definitions for protoplasm


[ (proh-tuh-plaz-uhm) ]

The jellylike material in a cell, both inside and outside the nucleus, where the chemical reactions that support life take place.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.