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Word of the Day
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Definitions for commensal

  1. eating together at the same table.
  2. Ecology. (of an animal, plant, fungus, etc.) living with, on, or in another, without injury to either.
  3. Sociology. (of a person or group) not competing while residing in or occupying the same area as another individual or group having independent or different values or customs.

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Citations for commensal
Food is therefore extremely affective; its taste on our individual tongues often incites strong emotions, while the communal, commensal experience of such sensations binds people together, not only through space but time as well, as individuals collectively remember past experiences with certain meals and imagine their ancestors having similar experiences. Michael A. Di Giovine and Ronda L. Brulotte, "Food and Foodways as Cultural Heritage," Edible Identities: Food as Cultural Heritage, 2014
Ant colonies often entertain a variety of parasitic arthropods such as beetles and mites, and some that are merely commensal; that is they merely cohabit with the ants, and thereby perhaps gain protection, or scavenge for scrap food, but do no obvious harm. Kenneth Whitney, "Laboulbeniales: a meek and successful social disease," New Scientist, December 23–30, 1982
Origin of commensal
1350-1400
Commensal entered English in the 1300s. It derives from the Latin term commēnsālis, which combines com- meaning "together" and mensa meaning "table."