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foraminifer definition


Define the English word foraminifer below. Foraminifer is a noun. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .



A microscopic image of foraminifers of the species Ammonia beccarii.

Borrowed from French foraminifère (foraminifer), from French Foraminifères coined by the French naturalist Alcide d’Orbigny (1802–1857) in an 1826 article.[1][2] Foraminifère is derived from Latin forāmina (apertures, holes) + -ifer (a variant of -fer (suffix meaning ‘bearing, carrying’), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰer- (to bear, carry)), that is, “having holes”.[3] Forāmina is the plural of forāmen (aperture or opening produced by boring; hole), from forō (to bore, pierce) (from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerH- (to pierce; to strike)) + -men (suffix forming neuter nouns of the third declension).



foraminifer (plural foraminifers)

  1. Any of a large group of aquatic amoeboid protists of the subphylum Foraminifera, characterized by streaming granular ectoplasm that among other things is used for catching food, often with a calcareous shell with many holes through which pseudopodia protrude.
    Synonyms: foram, foraminifera, foraminiferan, foraminiferid, foraminiferon, (both obsolete, now nonstandard) foraminiferum
    • 1859 October, “Art. V.—Physical Geography of the Atlantic Ocean.”, in The Westminster Review, volume LXXII, number CXLII, American edition, New York, N.Y.: Leonard Scott & Co., [], OCLC 507147293, page 263:
      The species of foraminifer which composes, almost to the exclusion of all others, the deep Atlantic mud, is called Globigerina. [] The natural home of the foraminifers appears to be in the deeper parts of the ocean, commencing where the regular inhabitants of limited depths terminate.
    • 1860 January 4, T[homas] Rupert Jones; W[illiam] K[itchen] Parker, “3. On the Rhizopodal Fauna of the Mediterranean, Compared with that of the Italian and Some Other Tertiary Deposits.”, in The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, volume XVI, part I (Proceedings of the Geological Society), London: Longmans, Green, Longmans, and Roberts [], ISSN 0016-7649, OCLC 263593044, page 300:
      The Heterostegina-bed at Malta is not without smaller Foraminifers (some of which we can identify,—as the Globigerina bulloides, Truncatulina lobatula, &c.), but the matrix is too stubborn to yield all its treasures.
    • 1872, Henry Alleyne Nicholson, “Sub-kingdom I.—Protozoa.”, in A Manual of Palæontology for the Use of Students [], 3rd edition, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, OCLC 875345116, part II, page 61:
      From a palæontological point of view the only part of a Foraminifer with which we have to deal is the shell or "test," [] Each bud of the compound Foraminifer is surrounded by its own shell, so that the whole comes to be composed of a number of chambers, each containing a mass of sarcode.
    • 1994, Richard Z. Poore; Scott E. Ishman; R. Lawrence Phillips; David H. McNeil, “Paleoceanography”, in Quaternary Stratigraphy and Paleoceanography of the Canada Basin, Western Arctic Ocean [] (U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin; 2080), Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 180668353, page 10, column 1:
      The environmental significance of foraminifer abundance variations in Arctic cores is controversial []. One interpretation concludes that foraminifer-rich intervals represent interglacial conditions reflecting seasonally absent or reduced ice cover leading to increased productivity; intervals barren or nearly barren of foraminifers are considered to represent glacial conditions with thicker ice cover and lower productivity [].
    • 2003, Peter A. Scholle, “Grains: Skeletal Fragments: Foraminifers”, in A Color Guide to the Petrography of Carbonate Rocks: Grains, Textures, Porosity, Diagenesis (AAPG Memoir; 77), Tulsa, Okla.: American Association of Petroleum Geologists, →ISBN, page 37:
      A cross-section through a single agglutinated foraminifer – in this case, one that selected both carbonate and non-carbonate grains to build its test. These foraminifers are recognizable by the chamber-shaped grain arrangements rather than the otherwise random distribution of grains in the rest of the rock.
    • 2017, Ralf Schiebel; Christoph Hemleben, “Nutrition, Symbionts, and Predators”, in Planktic Foraminifers in the Modern Ocean, 2nd edition, Berlin; Heidelberg: Springer Nature, DOI:10.1007/978-3-662-50297-6, →ISBN, section 4.6 (Predation), page 154, column 1:
      One of the most frequently asked questions concerns the predators of planktic foraminifers. Whereas a large variety of predators of benthic foraminifers have been identified, the nature of planktic foraminifer predators is largely enigmatic.

Usage notes

It has been suggested it is acceptable to use either foraminifer (plural foraminifers) or foraminifera (plural foraminifera or foraminiferas) as long as one form of the word and its plural(s) are used consistently throughout a text.[4]

Derived terms

Related terms



  1. ^ [Alcide Charles Victor Marie] Dessalines d’Orbigny (March 1826) , “Tableau méthodique de la classe des Céphalopodes [Methodical Table of the Class of Cephalopods]”, in [Jean Victor] Audouin, [Adolphe-Théodore] Brongniart, and [Jean-Baptiste] Dumas, editors, Annales des Sciences Naturelles [] [Annals of the Natural Sciences []], volume VII, Paris: Crochard, [], ISSN 0150-9306, OCLC 1017981779, pages 245–314.
  2. ^ Compare “Foraminifera, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2019.
  3. ^ Compare “foraminifer, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2018; “foraminifer, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  4. ^ Jere H[enry] Lipps; Kenneth L. Finger; Sally E. Walker (October 2011) , “What Should We Call the Foraminifera?”, in Journal of Foraminiferal Research[1], volume 41, issue 4, Lawrence, Kan.: Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research, ISSN 0096-1191, OCLC 1108733583, page 312, column 1.

Further reading