Difference between Host and Parasite

What is a Parasite?

A parasite mainly refers to an incredibly varied group of organisms, which survives either by living on, or by invading into, cells of another species.

The word parasite is derived from the Latin form of the Greek word ‘parasitos’, which refers to “one who eats at the table of another”. Barnacles, leeches, protozoa, bugs, fungi, fleas, viruses and tapeworms are a few examples of parasites.

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What is a Host?

The term host mainly refers to a living organism that acts as a harbour for invading pathogenic organisms. The host also includes the living cells, tissue and any specialised organs of a living organism. The host can be humans, plants and animals.

The type of relationship between the host and the parasite can be defined as parasitism. Here, the parasite is benefited from the host resources – food and shelter. The harmed or infected organisms are called the host.

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Let’s learn the differences between host and parasite.

Host and Parasite – Comparisons




An organism that harbours parasites.

An organism that obtains food, shelter and other resources from another organism.


Hosts are always larger in size compared to parasites.

Parasites are always smaller in size compared to the host.

Biological Organisation

Hosts always have a higher organisation compared to parasites.

Parasites have a lower organisation compared to hosts.

Types of Classification

Depending on their roles and stages in the development and existence of the parasites, hosts are further classified into different types.

According to their localisation, ontogenesis and time span, parasites are further classified into different types.


Hosts can either be affected/harmed or mutually benefited.

Parasites are always benefited by the hosts.

Also Refer: Difference between Predation and Parasitism.

This article concludes the introduction to hosts and parasites and their differences. Stay tuned to BYJU’S Biology to learn more about the parasites, parasitism, different modes of nutrition, and more similarities and differences between host and parasite.

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