from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A cell, such as a white blood cell, that engulfs and absorbs waste material, harmful microorganisms, or other foreign bodies in the bloodstream and tissues.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A lymph-corpuscle, or white blood-corpuscle, regarded as an organism capable of devouring what it meets, especially pathogenic microbes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Physiol.) A leucocyte which plays a part in retrogressive processes by taking up (eating), in the form of fine granules, the parts to be removed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun cytology A cell of the immune system, such as a neutrophil, macrophage or dendritic cell, that engulfs and destroys viruses, bacteria and waste materials, or in the case of mature dendritic cells; displays antigens from invading pathogens to cells of the lymphoid lineage.
  • verb transitive phagocytose

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a cell that engulfs and digests debris and invading microorganisms


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the German Phagocyt, modified on the pattern of -cyte.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Either from the noun or from the French phagocyter.


  • Returning to Odessa, Mechnikov visited Vienna on the way and explained his ideas to Claus, Professor of Zoology there and it was Claus who suggested the term phagocyte for the mobile cells which act in this way.

    Ilya Mechnikov - Biography

  • Cellular assays include immunophenotyping of specific cell populations as well as assays for lymphocyte and phagocyte function.

    Immunology Lab

  • Indeed, on this view, the phagocyte became an exemplar combatant of Darwinian struggle, now occurring within the organism.

    The Impulse of Breathing

  • He found such an agent in the phagocyte, which retained its ancient phylogenetic eating function, to devour effete, dead, or injured cells that violated the phagocyte's sense of organismal identity.

    The Impulse of Breathing

  • The portrayal of the phagocyte as autonomous is largely derivative from the linked features of its capacity to sense its environment and move freely within it, and the various degrees of unpredictability and meaningfulness that characterize this behavior.

    The Impulse of Breathing

  • When pathogenic microbes were discovered in the 1870s, Metchnikoff soon applied to the phagocyte the new role of defending the organism against invaders.

    The Impulse of Breathing

  • Jam is pretty interesting, as in vertebrates its relatives turn up on white blood cells involved in immunity, and play a role in phagocyte movement during inflammation.

    Stuck on you, biological Velcro and the evolution of adaptive immunity - The Panda's Thumb

  • One type of phagocyte—a macrophage—is known as “big-eater.”

    Cell-Level Healing

  • The argument was that you were writing for other scientists, so defining words like endometriosis or phagocyte were simply a waste of your word limits.

    Archive 2005-11-01

  • The argument was that you were writing for other scientists, so defining words like endometriosis or phagocyte were simply a waste of your word limits.

    A mix of disciplines


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