from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

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

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun By extension, an early or but slightly developed state of an organism; an early embryo. See embryo.
  • noun Some or any microbe or micro-organism; a spore: as, a cholera-germ. See germicide.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Biol.) That which is to develop a new individual; ; the earliest form under which an organism appears.
  • noun That from which anything springs; origin; first principle.
  • noun (Biol.) The germ cells, collectively, as distinguished from the somatic cells, or soma. Germ is often used in place of germinal to form phrases
  • noun A microorganism, especially a disease-causing bacterium or virus; -- used informally, .
  • noun (Biol.) a name applied to certain tiny bacterial organisms or their spores, such as Anthrax bacillus and the Micrococcus of fowl cholera, which have been demonstrated to be the cause of certain diseases; same as germ{4}. See Germ theory (below).
  • noun (Biol.) the germ, egg, spore, or cell from which the plant or animal arises. At one time a part of the body of the parent, it finally becomes detached, and by a process of multiplication and growth gives rise to a mass of cells, which ultimately form a new individual like the parent. See Ovum.
  • noun (Anat.) See Gonad.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a special process on which buds are developed in certain animals. See Doliolum.
  • noun (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.
  • intransitive verb rare To germinate.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • noun anything that provides inspiration for later work
  • noun a small apparently simple structure (as a fertilized egg) from which new tissue can develop into a complete organism
  • noun 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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