Definition of nematocyst in English:


Syllabification: nem·a·to·cyst
Pronunciation: /ˈnemətəˌsist, niˈmatə-


  • A specialized cell in the tentacles of a jellyfish or other coelenterate, containing a barbed or venomous coiled thread that can be projected in self-defense or to capture prey.
    More example sentences
    • Casually touching many cnidarians will make it clear how they got their name when their nematocysts eject barbed threads tipped with poison.
    • If collar cells and spicules are defining characteristics of the Phylum Porifera, then nematocysts define cnidarians.
    • As a feeding adaptation, the anemones are equipped with stinging cells called nematocysts, which are triggered as soon as a tentacle touches a living organism, paralyzing it upon contact.


late 19th century: from nemato- 'of threadlike shape' + cyst.

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