SKIP TO CONTENT

prokaryote

A prokaryote is a single-celled organism that doesn't have a nucleus. Bacteria are one familiar type of prokaryote.

If you take a biology class, you're likely to learn about prokaryotes, tiny organisms without a distinct nucleus bound by a membrane, like most other living things. Prokaryotes are often contrasted with the single-celled or multicellular eukaryotes, which do have a nucleus. The word prokaryote is rooted in Greek — it combines the word pro, "before," with karyon, "nut or kernel."

Definitions of prokaryote
  1. noun
    a unicellular organism having cells lacking membrane-bound nuclei; bacteria are the prime example but also included are blue-green algae and actinomycetes and mycoplasma
    synonyms: procaryote
    see moresee less
    Antonyms:
    eucaryote, eukaryote
    an organism with cells characteristic of all life forms except primitive microorganisms such as bacteria; i.e. an organism with `good' or membrane-bound nuclei in its cells
    type of:
    being, organism
    a living thing that has (or can develop) the ability to act or function independently
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week