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- the small and microscopic organisms drifting or floating in the sea or fresh water, consisting chiefly of diatoms, protozoans, small crustaceans, and the eggs and larval stages of larger animals. Many animals are adapted to feed on plankton, especially by filtering the water. Compare with nekton.
late 19th century: from German, from Greek planktos 'wandering', from the base of plazein 'wander'