, in ecology
, is a class of relationships
between two organism
s where one organism benefits from the other without affecting it. This is in contrast with mutualism
, in which both organisms benefit from each other, amensalism
, where one is harmed while the other is unaffected, and parasitism
, where one benefits while the other is harmed.
The word "commensalism" is derived from the word "commensal", meaning "eating at the same table" in human social interaction, which in turn comes through French
from the Medieval Latin commensalis
, meaning "sharing a table", from the prefix ', meaning "together", and
', meaning "table" or "meal". Originally, the term was used to describe the use of waste food by second animals, like the carcass eaters that follow hunting animals, but wait until they have finished their meal. Commensality, at Oxford
Universities, refers to professors eating at the same table as students (as they live in the same "college").