American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. The doctrine holding that infectious diseases are caused by the activity of microorganisms within the body.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Biol.) the theory that living organisms can be produced only by the evolution or development of living germs or seeds. See Biogenesis, and Abiogenesis. As applied to the origin of disease, the theory claims that the zymotic diseases are due to the rapid development and multiplication of various bacteria, the germs or spores of which are either contained in the organism itself, or transferred through the air or water. See Fermentation theory.
- (Biol.) The theory that living organisms can be produced only by the development of living germs. Cf. biogenesis, abiogenesis.
- (Med.) The theory which attributes contagious and infectious diseases, suppurative lesions, etc., to the agency of germs, i.e. pathogenic microorganisms. The science of bacteriology was developed after this theory had been established.
- n. (medicine) the theory that all contagious diseases are caused by microorganisms
“Both Claude Bernard and Virchow had expressed their respective ideas before Robert Koch's discovery of the tubercle bacillus in 1882 won the decisive vic - tory for the germ theory of disease.”
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"The Ghost Map", by steven Johnson, is a fascinating account of the (successful) investigation by two men, John Snow and Henry Whitehead, into the means by which cholera is transmitted, following t...
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