Definitions

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

  • n. The act of incubating.
  • n. The state of being incubated.
  • n. Medicine The development of an infection from the time the pathogen enters the body until signs or symptoms first appear.
  • n. Medicine The maintenance of an infant, especially a premature infant, in an environment of controlled temperature, humidity, and oxygen concentration in order to provide optimal conditions for growth and development.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Sitting on eggs for the purpose of hatching young; a brooding on, or keeping warm, to develop the life within, by any process.
  • n. The development of a disease from its causes, or its period of incubation. (See below.)
  • n. A period of little reaction which is followed by more rapid reaction.
  • n. Sleeping in a temple or other holy place in order to have oracular dreams.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sitting on eggs for the purpose of hatching young; a brooding on, or keeping warm, (eggs) to develop the life within, by any process.
  • n. The development of a disease from its causes, or its period of incubation. (See below.)
  • n. A sleeping in a consecrated place for the purpose of dreaming oracular dreams.
  • n. The maintenance (of a living organism, such as microorganisms or a premature baby) in appropriate conditions, such as of temperature, humidity, or atmospheric composition, for growth.
  • n. The gradual development in some interior environment, until fully formed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of sitting, as on eggs, for the purpose of hatching; brooding; hatching: often used figuratively, as of writings, schemes, etc.
  • n. In pathology, the unnoticed or unknown processes or changes which occur in the interval between the exposure to an infectious disease and the development of its first symptoms.
  • n. A lying in or within; specifically, the act of sleeping in a temple for the purpose of obtaining revelations by dreams, or in the hope of being visited by the god and relieved of some ailment, as in the Greek sanctuaries of Æsculapius.
  • n. In pathology, the period that elapses between the introduction of the morbific principle and the outbreak of the disease.

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

  • n. sitting on eggs so as to hatch them by the warmth of the body
  • n. (pathology) the phase in the development of an infection between the time a pathogen enters the body and the time the first symptoms appear
  • n. maintaining something at the most favorable temperature for its development

Etymologies

From Latin incubationem, from incubare. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Muslims are encouraged to 'spend time' in mosques during the month of Ramadan, which can involve sleeping there. This practice is known as ihtikaaf.

    May 14, 2008

  • A religious practice of sleeping in a sacred area with the intention of experiencing a divinely inspired dream or cure. Incubation was practised by members of the cult of Asclepius. Votive offerings found at his ritual centres at Epidaurus, Pergamum, and Rome detail the perceived effectiveness of the method. Incubation was adopted by certain Christian sects and is still used in a few Greek monasteries.

    May 13, 2008