Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An organism adapted to living in conditions of extreme temperature, pressure, or chemical concentration, as in highly acidic or salty environments.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An organism that lives under extreme conditions of temperature, salinity etc; commercially important as a source of enzymes that operate under similar conditions.

Etymologies

extrem(e) + -o- + -phile.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From extreme + -o- +‎ -phile. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The word extremophile, after all, means literally a lover of extreme places.

    First Contact

  • The word "extremophile," after all, means literally a lover of extreme places.

    Space Odyssey: Scientists go to the extremes of the earth to divine the secrets of extraterrestrial life.

  • And should we ever actually find some kind of extremophile alien life there, be it bacteria or something more evolved, who knows what would happen if we don't protect ourselves adequately?

    Watch the trailer for Martian, a new graphic novel by Clay Rodery about madness on Mars

  • Scientists have traveled to the most extreme environments on earth – from deep-sea vents to Siberian volcanoes – to bio-prospect for "extremophile" micro-organisms that can digest wood and plant wastes to be fermented into fuel.

    Climate Change Opportunity

  • The "extremophile" bacteria were found in a briny lake in eastern California in the US.

    BBC News - Home

  • High-temperature 'extremophile' microbes, like those in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, US, would have survived at greater depths, down to their limit of about 4 km.

    dailyindia.com News Feed

  • Eureka to look for "extremophile" alien-like life, possibly intelligent, in the vicinity of San Francisco.

    The Register

  • 'extremophile' microbes, like those in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, would have survived at greater depths, down to their limit of about 4 km.

    New Scientist - Online News

  • To enter, explore, and ultimately understand the world of microbial extremophiles, you need to be, inside your head, something of a human extremophile yourself.

    First Contact

  • And so the world was introduced to Desulforudis audaxviator, extremophile par excellence.

    First Contact

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Comments

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  • Outside his little window flap, frozen in the airless air, archaea, superbugs, and extremophiles live on nothing, in darkness, below zero, simply copying.
    --Richard Powers, 2007, The Echo Maker, p. 448

    November 7, 2008

  • David Attenborough pronounces it 'stream' in the Planet Earth series.

    August 26, 2007

  • I love this one! I wonder if the second syllable is meant to rhyme with stem or stream. I prefer the latter, of course, though it's probably wrong. :-)

    March 26, 2007

  • Typically biological, pertaining to organisms living in extreme conditions... but I think there's some fun metaphorical connotation in there. Suggested to me by a friend who alluded to his penchant for working late nights on difficult assignments by referring to himself as a "vocational extremophile".

    March 24, 2007