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

  • n. Biology A small mass of protoplasm or cells from which a new organism or one of its parts may develop.
  • n. The earliest form of an organism; a seed, bud, or spore.
  • n. A microorganism, especially a pathogen.
  • n. Something that may serve as the basis of further growth or development: the germ of a project.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The small mass of cells from which a new organism develops; a seed, bud or spore.
  • n. A pathogenic microorganism.
  • n. An idea that forms the basis of some project.
  • n. The embryo of a seed, especially of a seed used as a cereal or grain. See Wikipedia article on cereal germ.
  • v. To germinate
  • v. to grow, as if parasitic

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which is to develop a new individual; ; the earliest form under which an organism appears.
  • n. That from which anything springs; origin; first principle.
  • n. The germ cells, collectively, as distinguished from the somatic cells, or soma. Germ is often used in place of germinal to form phrases
  • n. A microorganism, especially a disease-causing bacterium or virus; -- used informally, .
  • intransitive v. To germinate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In biology, the first rudiment of any organism; the earliest stage in the development of an organism; the simplest recognizable condition of a living thing; in botany, technically, the embryo of a seed, or, in the Linnean use of the word, the ovary.
  • n. By extension, an early or but slightly developed state of an organism; an early embryo. See embryo.
  • n. Some or any microbe or micro-organism; a spore: as, a cholera-germ. See germicide.
  • n. That from which anything springs or may spring as if from a seed or root; a rudimentary element; a formative principle: as, the germs of civil liberty or of prosperity.
  • n. In pathology, the doctrine that zymotic diseases, together with some not usually classed as zymotic, are due to the presence in the body of living organisms. These organisms, which, so far as they have been positively identified, belong for the most part to the group of bacteria, produce their morbid effects by their vital activity, and probably in large part by the formation of poisons called ptomaines. This doctrine no longer rests upon indirect evidence alone, but also on the positive identification of the peccant organisms in a certain number of diseases, as in phthisis, anthrax, relapsing fever, typhoid fever, and some others. Synonyms Fetus, Rudiment. See embryo.

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

  • n. anything that provides inspiration for later work
  • n. a small apparently simple structure (as a fertilized egg) from which new tissue can develop into a complete organism
  • n. a minute life form (especially a disease-causing bacterium); the term is not in technical use


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

Middle English, bud, from Old French germe, from Latin germen; see genə- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle French germe, from Latin germen ("bud, seed, embryo").



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