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From parasite +‎ -ism. Cognate with French parasitisme and Portuguese and Spanish parasitismo.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpæɹəs(a)ɪˌtɪzm̩/
  • Hyphenation: par‧a‧sit‧ism


parasitism (usually uncountable, plural parasitisms)

  1. (ecology) Interaction between two organisms, in which one organism (the parasite) benefits and the other (the host) is harmed.
  2. (figuratively) A similar interaction between people.
    We accused her of parasitism in taking his hard-earned money for new dresses.
    • a. 1674, “Observations upon the Articles of Peace with the Iriſh Rebels”, in The Works of John Milton, Hiſtorical, Political, and Miſcellaneous, volume 1, London: A. Millar, published 1753, page 399:
      Either theſe men imagine themſelves to be marvelouſly high ſet and exalted in the chair of Belfaſt, to vouchſafe the parliament of England no better ſtile than Servants, or elſe their high notion, which we rather believe, falls as low as court paraſitiſm ; ſuppoſing all men to be ſervants, but the king.