Definitions

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

  • intransitive verb To sit on (eggs) to provide heat, so as to promote embryonic development and the hatching of young; brood.
  • intransitive verb To maintain (eggs, organisms, or living tissue) at optimal environmental conditions for growth and development.
  • intransitive verb To maintain (a chemical or biochemical system) under specific conditions in order to promote a particular reaction.
  • intransitive verb To be infected with (a pathogen) before manifesting signs or symptoms of an infectious disease.
  • intransitive verb To form or consider slowly and protectively, as if hatching.
  • intransitive verb To brood eggs.
  • intransitive verb To develop and hatch.
  • intransitive verb To undergo incubation.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To sit upon for the purpose of hatching; hatch out, or produce by hatching: often used figuratively: as, to incubate eggs; to incubate a book or a project.
  • To sit, as on eggs, for the purpose of hatching; brood: as, a bird that incubates for two weeks.
  • In pathology, to go through the stage or process of incubation. See incubation, 2.
  • In bacteriology, to place (a culture) in a thermostat or a similar apparatus for the purpose of obtaining the maximum growth of bacteria by keeping them at a constant optimum temperature.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • verb To sit, as on eggs for hatching; to brood; to brood upon, or keep warm, as eggs, for the purpose of hatching.
  • verb To maintain (a living organism, such as microorganisms or a premature baby) under appropriate conditions, such as of temperature, humidity, or atmospheric composition, for growth.
  • verb To develop gradually in some interior environment, until fully formed.

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

  • verb transitive To brood, raise, or maintain eggs, organisms, or living tissue through the provision of ideal environmental conditions.
  • verb transitive To incubate metaphorically; to ponder an idea slowly and deliberately as if in preparation for hatching it.

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

  • verb sit on (eggs)
  • verb grow under conditions that promote development

Etymologies

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

[Latin incubāre, incubāt-, to lie down on : in-, on; see in– + cubāre, to lie down.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin incubatus, past participle of incubare ("to hatch"), from Latin in- ("on") and cubare ("to lie").

Examples

  • He told USA Today, "I've written and created everything I've done, and it takes me a year to reflect on what I've done, a year to let the idea incubate, and a year to create a new character."

    Spring Movie Guide

  • I suppose one could hardly say that they were being incubated, for, according to the dictionaries, to incubate is to sit upon, and certainly there was no one sitting on them.

    Forest Neighbors Life Stories of Wild Animals

  • Wertheimer's idea is to tap the entrepreneurial trading instinct of the Arab people (the Middle East was traditionally one of the great trading crossroads of the world) and "incubate" more than 100 small export businesses in products like plastics, textiles and software.

    Between The Lines Online: Investing In Peace

  • Both Paige and Nate are regular guests on Oprah, and according to the report, Winfrey plans to "incubate" them in the same manner as she did with Dr. Phil.

    Archive 2005-01-01

  • After arriving at the ceremony encased in a giant egg all the better to "incubate" before her live performance, the superstar hit the stage to sing "Born This Way" for the first time in front of an audience.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • With five new camps it helped "incubate" set to open this summer and backing from powerhouse philanthropists like Mem Bernstein and the Jim Joseph Foundation, the 12-year-old Foundation for Jewish Camp - which represents about 150 nonprofit Jewish overnight camps - is focusing on not simply staying stable but on ambitious growth.

    The Jewish Week (BETA)

  • With five new camps it helped "incubate" set to open this summer and backing from powerhouse philanthropists like Mem Bernstein and the Jim Joseph Foundation, the 12-year-old Foundation for Jewish Camp - which represents about 150 nonprofit Jewish overnight camps - is focusing on not simply staying stable but on ambitious growth.

    The Jewish Week (BETA)

  • With five new camps it helped "incubate" set to open this summer and backing from powerhouse philanthropists like Mem Bernstein and the Jim Joseph Foundation, the 12-year-old Foundation for Jewish Camp - which represents about 150 nonprofit Jewish overnight camps - is focusing on not simply staying stable but on ambitious growth.

    The Jewish Week (BETA)

  • With five new camps it helped "incubate" set to open this summer and backing from powerhouse philanthropists like Mem Bernstein and the Jim Joseph Foundation, the 12-year-old Foundation for Jewish Camp - which represents about 150 nonprofit Jewish overnight camps - is focusing on not simply staying stable but on ambitious growth.

    The Jewish Week (BETA)

  • Tearfund will 'incubate' Restored over the next three years, and host the new alliance as it builds up its own capacity and identity.

    Christian Today

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