A specialized cell in the tentacles of a jellyfish or other coelenterate, containing a barbed or venomous coiled thread that can be projected in self-defense or to capture prey.
- ‘As a feeding adaptation, the anemones are equipped with stinging cells called nematocysts, which are triggered as soon as a tentacle touches a living organism, paralyzing it upon contact.’
- ‘Casually touching many cnidarians will make it clear how they got their name when their nematocysts eject barbed threads tipped with poison.’
- ‘Members of the phylum Cnidaria, these animals have capsule-shaped cells with a trapdoor-like lid, containing a stinging nematocyst.’
- ‘If collar cells and spicules are defining characteristics of the Phylum Porifera, then nematocysts define cnidarians.’
- ‘If pain persists, powder and shave the skin to remove any remaining nematocysts.’
Late 19th century: from nemato- of threadlike shape + cyst.