He there.

So in biology there is the concept of parabiosis, that describes a relationship where one part experiences a positive side effect and the other one has no disadvantages because of that. The "para" shows, that only a half of the organisms experiences this advantage. Then I asked myself: Where does the "para" in parasitism come from? Is it because only one of the two sides experiences the exploitation? And if so: Is there a term for a relationship, where 2 organisms exploit each other, so basically an equivalent of parabiosis and symbiosis, but for parasitism?


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    $\begingroup$ What exactly is the question here? The title doesn't really match the text, and the text seems to have several different questions in it, all of which are rather vague. The title question isn't biology-related, it's an etymological question. $\endgroup$ – iayork Mar 11 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ Had a small typo in there, Now I'd say the title matches. And I would argue that although the question is about the origins of a word, it fits more in a biology forum than a ethymologic forum. $\endgroup$ – Okaghana Mar 11 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome @Okaghana. For future reference, you're asking about the history or origin of the word, so on pedantic grounds it'd be better suited in an etymological forum. I disagree with the close vote for 'needs more focus', it is a clear, focused question. A little off topic surely, but it's been answered well and I think we should leave it at that. $\endgroup$ – S Pr Mar 11 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ "exploiting each other" would be a negative-negative interaction, i.e. competition. If both members of an interaction harm each other, it would be hard to maintain symbiosis (close association). A positive-positive interaction would be mutualism (and there are lots of mutualistic symbionts) $\endgroup$ – Ben Bolker Mar 11 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to SE Biology. Please complete your reading of the Tour, where you will see that this site is concerned with questions about biological problems, not about the etymology of biological terms, which can usually be found in on-line English dictionaries. $\endgroup$ – David Mar 11 at 16:21

The prefix para- means beside; adjacent to.

Parasite (from Etymonline):

"a hanger-on, a toady, person who lives on others,"...from Greek parasitos "one who lives at another's expense, person who eats at the table of another," especially one who frequents the tables of the rich and earns his welcome by flattery, from noun use of an adjective meaning "feeding beside," from para- "beside."

So, in the word parasitism, para- refers to the relation of a parasite to its host.

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    $\begingroup$ But the poster could have found the answer to this English Language question himself if he had done the research that this site requires before posting an off-topic question. Answering such questions is easy, but it attracts more rubbish to this site. The Help on answering questions makes it clear that not all questions deserve an answer. $\endgroup$ – David Mar 11 at 20:28

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