Definitions

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

  • n. A minute life form; a microorganism, especially a bacterium that causes disease. Not in technical use.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any microorganism, but specially said of those microorganisms which are harmful types of bacteria.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A microscopic organism; a microorganism; -- particularly applied to bacteria and especially to pathogenic forms.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A minute living being not distinguished, primarily, as to its animal or vegetable nature.

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

  • n. a minute life form (especially a disease-causing bacterium); the term is not in technical use

Etymologies

French : Greek mīkro-, micro- + Greek bios, life; see gwei- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek μικρός (mikros, "small") and βίος (bios, "life"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • [Footnote: The term microbe is simply a word which has been coined to include all of the microscopic plants commonly included under the terms bacteria and yeasts.] has developed with a marvellous rapidity.

    The Story of Germ Life

  • In its most general sense, the term microbe designates certain colorless algæ belonging to the family Bacteriaceæ, the principal forms of which are known under the name of _Micrococcus.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 446, July 19, 1884

  • Obviously, your goal as a microbe is to grow and survive.

    Archive 2008-09-01

  • How do you go about deciding which microbe is the most important?

    Gut Reactions

  • I think that microbe is so cute (something you never think you'd hear yourself say)!

    A Pox on You

  • This month's issue of the always-excellent Smithsonian magazine has a long feature about the history and influence of the Dada art movement, described by artist Tristan Tzara as a "virgin microbe" that spread around the pre-World War I world leaving mind-blowing artifacts of absurdity in its wake.

    Boing Boing: May 14, 2006 - May 20, 2006 Archives

  • The ethanol toxicity posed another problem, but through the optimization of an existing efflux pump the microbe was able to protect itself.

    365 tomorrows » 2008 » January : A New Free Flash Fiction SciFi Story Every Day

  • I am SHOCKED that you did not mention that the microbe was a CCC!

    Bonus Side Tangent Contest Results

  • “He is known as a microbe in society, and he should be cut off and removed from the rest of Muslim society and should be killed,” Wasi told the court.

    Time To Take A Stand

  • But the important part to take away from this is that there are 18 different ways that a microbe can use single point mutations and selection to develop a drug resistance 5 orders of magnitude higher than it started with, each step along the way being beneficial to the microbe, that is.

    Evolution of IC: Evolution of Hormone-Receptor Complexity - The Panda's Thumb

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Comments

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  • zot

    August 16, 2011

  • is there a similar word that refers to any microscopic thing? "microbe" was my first thought, but it's specific to lifeforms. i'm told that carl sagan was fond of "mote" (well, for extremely microscopic things). anyone got anything?

    August 16, 2011