• synonyms


  1. any microscopic animal of the phylum (or class) Rotifera, found in fresh and salt waters, having one or more rings of cilia on the anterior end.
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Origin of rotifer

From New Latin, dating back to 1785–95; see origin at Rotifera
Also called wheel animalcule.
Related formsro·tif·er·al [roh-tif-er-uh l] /roʊˈtɪf ər əl/, ro·tif·er·ous, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rotifer

Historical Examples of rotifer

  • Yet among those animal mountains, where will you find the vivacity, the ardor of vitality, displayed by the rotifer?

    The Sea

    Jules Michelet

  • One dries up a rotifer: good night to him; somebody soaks him a little, and he wakes up to bid you good day.

  • It is to the rotifer what this globe, with its twenty-seven thousand miles of circumference is to man.

    The Sea

    Jules Michelet

  • The Asplanchna, the mouthless male of a Rotifer, (p. 292) alone remains for me.

  • In Rotifer macrurus the ovary with its germinal vesicles is distinctly seen occupying one side of the animal.


    Philip Henry Gosse

British Dictionary definitions for rotifer


  1. any minute aquatic multicellular invertebrate of the phylum Rotifera, having a ciliated wheel-like organ used in feeding and locomotion: common constituents of freshwater planktonAlso called: wheel animalcule
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Derived Formsrotiferal (rəʊˈtɪfərəl) or rotiferous, adjective

Word Origin for rotifer

C18: from New Latin Rotifera, from Latin rota wheel + ferre to bear
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

rotifer in Science


  1. Any of various tiny, multicellular aquatic animals of the phylum Rotifera, having a wheel-like ring of cilia at their front ends. The cilia trap small organisms for food. Rotifers are grouped by some scientists together with nematodes and some other invertebrates as aschelminths.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.