I was playing this spelling bee game when this word came up and I wanted to know how the word was formed but could not find anything and thought perhaps someone on this site could help me out a bit?

  • On the other hand, now we have a word that rhymes with "wisteria" :)
    – Robusto
    Jun 5, 2011 at 10:40
  • Good news for all the Desperate Housewives! lol Jun 11, 2011 at 5:18
  • 1
    Incidentally, this is why you should always ask for the definition in a spelling bee. It would be easy to tell that that the judge has the book open to "P" and not "F". Apr 5, 2012 at 0:55

2 Answers 2


According to wikipedia:

Pfiesteria was discovered in 1988 by North Carolina State University researchers JoAnn Burkholder and Ed Noga. The genus was named after Lois Ann Pfiester (1936–1992), a biologist who did much of the early research on dinoflagellates. An in-depth story of the discovery can be found in And the Waters Turned to Blood by Rodney Barker.

According to Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press:

Pfiester; German: variant of Pfister.

And, again, according to Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press:

Pfister; South German and Swiss German: occupational name for a baker, from Middle High German pfister ‘baker’ (from Latin pistor).

  • Ah, thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for! :) Jun 18, 2011 at 5:24
  • I thought so. When I read the question, I also wanted to find out what the heck it meant! :D Jun 18, 2011 at 23:32
  • haha, likewise! :) What are words without meaning? letters I suppose...lol Jun 19, 2011 at 16:07

From And the Waters Turned to Blood by Rodney Barker, p. 103:

"Pfiesteria was a tribute to their friend the late Lois Pfiester, a pioneer in unraveling the sexual life cycles of fresh-water dinoflagellates..."

  • ah, ok. That makes sense...Do you know Louise Pfiester's nationality, German perhaps? Jun 5, 2011 at 3:24
  • @Mr_CryptoPrime - I typed her first name wrong (I'll edit my answer for posterity!) - it's "Lois", not "Louise". Here's a short biography. She was born in Louisville, Kentucky - but I don't know her ancestry; probably German, but I'd need to do a bit more genealogical research (than I feel inclined to do...)
    – MT_Head
    Jun 5, 2011 at 3:30
  • I will look around for a bit and tell you if I find anything. Jun 5, 2011 at 3:31
  • That'd be excellent.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 5, 2011 at 3:33

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