type of microscopic protozoa, 1855, from Modern Latin Amoeba, genus name (1841 in English, said to have been used 1830 by German naturalist Christian Ehrenberg), from Greek amoibe "change, alteration; exchange," which is related to ameibein "to change, exchange," from PIE *(e)meigw-, which is an extended form of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move" or perhaps a separate root. So called for its constantly changing shape. An earlier popular name for it was proteus (1660s). Related: Amoebic; amoebiform; amoeboid.
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