• synonyms


[proh-tuh-plaz-uh m]
See more synonyms for protoplasm on Thesaurus.com
  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
Related formspro·to·plas·mic, pro·to·plas·mal, pro·to·plas·mat·ic [proh-toh-plaz-mat-ik] /ˌproʊ toʊ plæzˈmæt ɪk/, adjectivein·ter·pro·to·plas·mic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for protoplasm

thing, material, element, frame, carcass, torso, beef, muscle, meat, fat, body, individual, phenomenon, being, sum, object, entity, amount, stuff, quantity

Examples from the Web for protoplasm

Historical Examples of protoplasm

  • Their protoplasm is contractile and their form varies according to the species.

    The Sexual Question

    August Forel

  • Without their spirit life might never have moved out of protoplasm.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • The thing of protoplasm nearest me was moving but I was no longer interested.

    Cogito, Ergo Sum

    John Foster West

  • Cytoplasm: the protoplasm of a cell exclusive of nucleus; the cell body.

  • Spongioplasm: the net-like structure of protoplasm in a cell.

British Dictionary definitions for protoplasm


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

Word Origin for protoplasm

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


1848, from German Protoplasma (1846), used by German botanist Hugo von Mohl (1805-1872), on notion of "first-formed," from Greek proto- "first" (see proto-) + plasma "something molded" (see -plasm).

The word was in Late Latin with a sense of "first created thing," and it might have existed in ecclesiastical Greek in a different sense. It was used 1839 by Czech physiologist Johannes Evangelista Purkinje (1787-1869) to denote the gelatinous fluid found in living tissue. The modern meaning is a refinement of this. This word prevailed, though German language purists preferred Urschleim "original mucus."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

protoplasm in Medicine


  1. The complex, semifluid, translucent substance that constitutes the living matter of plant and animal cells and manifests the essential life functions of a cell. Composed of proteins, fats, and other molecules suspended in water, it includes the nucleus and cytoplasm.
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Related formspro′to•plasmic (-plăzmĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

protoplasm in Science


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

protoplasm in Culture



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

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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.