Definition of polyp in US English:



  • 1Zoology
    A solitary or colonial sedentary form of a coelenterate such as a sea anemone, typically having a columnar body with the mouth uppermost surrounded by a ring of tentacles. In some species, polyps are a phase in the life cycle which alternates with a medusoid phase.

    Compare with medusa
    • ‘A few, such as Hydra, are solitary polyps that lack a medusoid stage.’
    • ‘Finally solitary polyps or medusae may clone to produce more of their kind.’
    • ‘Instead, many used a scenario approach to conclude that solitary sessile polyps represent the ancestral cnidarian form.’
    • ‘Do polyps of other cnidarian species have a tissue dynamics similar to that of hydra?’
    • ‘Most hydrozoans alternate between a polyp and a medusa stage - they spend part of their lives as ‘jellyfish’ which are hard to distinguish from scyphozoan jellyfish.’
  • 2Medicine
    A small growth, usually benign and with a stalk, protruding from a mucous membrane.

    • ‘Growths such as polyps or fibroids can often be removed and endometriosis can often be treated with medications or surgery.’
    • ‘Screening for and removal of colorectal cancer and precancerous adenomatous polyps can decrease the incidence of colon disease.’
    • ‘Colonoscopy revealed diverticulitis and several benign polyps, which were excised.’
    • ‘What's more, most tumors start out as polyps, or benign growths, in the colon.’
    • ‘The laser can also provide relief for symptoms caused by benign airway tumors such as hamartomas, papillomas, polyps, and angiomas.’
    tumour, cancerous growth, malignant growth, malignancy, cancer
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (in polyp (sense 2)): from Old French polipe, from Latin polypus (see polypus). polyp (sense 1) dates from the mid 18th century.