Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An organism in its early stages of development, especially before it has reached a distinctively recognizable form.
  • n. An organism at any time before full development, birth, or hatching.
  • n. The fertilized egg of a vertebrate animal following cleavage.
  • n. In humans, the prefetal product of conception from implantation through the eighth week of development.
  • n. Botany The minute, rudimentary plant contained within a seed or an archegonium.
  • n. A rudimentary or beginning stage: "To its founding fathers, the European [Economic] Community was the embryo of the United States of Europe” ( Economist).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In the reproductive cycle, the stage after the fertilization of the egg that precedes the development into a fetus.
  • n. An organism in the earlier stages of development before it emerges from the egg, or before metamorphosis.
  • n. In viviparous animals, the young animal's earliest stages in the mother's body
  • n. In humans, usually the cell growth up to the end of the seventh week in the mother's body
  • n. A rudimentary plant contained in the seed.
  • n. The beginning; the first stage of anything.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to an embryo; rudimentary; undeveloped.
  • n. The young of an animal in the womb, or more specifically, before its parts are developed and it becomes a fetus (see fetus).
  • n. The germ of the plant, which is inclosed in the seed and which is developed by germination.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The fecundated germ of an animal in its earlier stages of development, and before it has assumed the distinctive form and structure of the parent; a germ; a rudiment; in a more extended sense, a rudimentary animal during its whole antenatal existance.
  • n. In botany, the rudimentary plant contained in the seed, the result of the action of pollen upon the ovule.
  • n. The beginning or first state of anything, while yet in a rude and undeveloped condition; the condition of anything which has been conceived but is not yet developed or executed; rudimentary state: chiefly in the phrase in embryo.
  • n. Synonyms Fetus, Germ, Rudiment. The first of these words is mainly applied to the embryos of viviparous vertebrates in the later stages of their development, when they are more subject to observation. Germ means especially the seed or fecundated ovum, and scarcely extends beyond the early stages of an embryo. Rudiment is simply the specific application of a more general term to a germ or to the early, crude, or ‘rude’ stages of an embryo.
  • Being in the first or rudimentary stage of growth or development; incipient; embryonic: as, an embryo flower.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an animal organism in the early stages of growth and differentiation that in higher forms merge into fetal stages but in lower forms terminate in commencement of larval life
  • n. (botany) a minute rudimentary plant contained within a seed or an archegonium

Etymologies

Medieval Latin embryō, from Greek embruon : en-, in; see en-2 + bruein, to be full to bursting.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
A Medieval Latin corruption of Ancient Greek ἔμβρυον (embruon, "fetus"), from ἐν (en-, "in-") + βρύω (bruō, "I grow, swell"). (Wiktionary)

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