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Any of numerous eukaryotic organisms that are not fungi, plants, or animals and are chiefly unicellular or colonial. Protists that are multicellular do not have cells differentiated into tissues. The protists include the protozoans, certain algae, oomycetes, and slime molds.

[From New Latin Prōtista, former kingdom name, from Greek prōtista, neuter pl. of prōtistos, the very first, superlative of prōtos, first; see per in Indo-European roots.]

pro·tis′tan (-tĭs′tən) adj. & n.
pro′tis·tol′o·gy (prō′tĭ-stŏl′ə-jē) n.


(ˈprəʊtɪst) or


(Biology) (in some classification systems) any organism belonging to the kingdom Protista, originally including bacteria, protozoans, algae, and fungi, regarded as distinct from plants and animals. It was later restricted to protozoans, unicellular algae, and simple fungi. See also protoctist
[C19: from New Latin Protista most primitive organisms, from Greek prōtistos the very first, from prōtos first]


(ˈproʊ tɪst)

any of various complex one-celled organisms, of the kingdom Protista, that have nuclei and organelles and that are either free-living or aggregated into simple colonies: includes the protozoans, slime molds, and eukaryotic algae.
[1885–90; < New Latin Protista (neuter pl.) < Greek prṓtistos (masculine singular) the very first, superlative of prôtos first; see proto-]
pro•tis′tan, adj., n.
pro•tis′tic, adj.


Any of a large variety of usually one-celled organisms, including the protozoans, most algae, and the slime molds. Protists are eukaryotes (that is, they have cell nuclei) and live in water or in watery tissues of organisms. They are grouped as a separate kingdom in taxonomy. Also called protoctist. See Table at taxonomy.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.protist - free-living or colonial organisms with diverse nutritional and reproductive modes
microorganism, micro-organism - any organism of microscopic size
division Protista, Protista - eukaryotic one-celled living organisms distinct from multicellular plants and animals: protozoa, slime molds, and eukaryotic algae