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

  • noun A mature plant ovule containing an embryo.
  • noun A small dry fruit, spore, or other propagative plant part.
  • noun Seeds considered as a group.
  • noun The seed-bearing stage of a plant.
  • noun A larval shellfish or a hatchling fish.
  • noun An egg or cocoon of certain insects.
  • noun Something that resembles a seed, as.
  • noun A tiny bubble in a piece of glass.
  • noun Medicine A form of a radioactive isotope that is used to localize and concentrate the amount of radiation administered to a body site, such as a tumor.
  • noun A source or beginning; a germ.
  • noun A small amount of material used to start a chemical reaction.
  • noun A small crystal used to start a crystallization process.
  • noun Offspring; progeny.
  • noun Family stock; ancestry.
  • noun Sperm; semen.
  • noun Sports A player who has been seeded for a tournament, often at a given rank.
  • intransitive verb To plant seeds in (land, for example); sow.
  • intransitive verb To plant (a crop, for example) as seeds in soil.
  • intransitive verb To remove the seeds from (fruit).
  • intransitive verb To furnish with something that grows or stimulates growth or development.
  • intransitive verb Medicine To cause (cells or a tumor, for example) to grow or multiply.
  • intransitive verb Meteorology To sprinkle (a cloud) with particles, as of silver iodide, in order to disperse it or to produce precipitation.
  • intransitive verb To arrange (the drawing for positions in a tournament) so that the more skilled contestants meet in the later rounds.
  • intransitive verb To rank (a contestant) in this way.
  • intransitive verb To help (a business, for example) in its early development.
  • intransitive verb To sow seed.
  • intransitive verb To pass into the seed-bearing stage.
  • intransitive verb Medicine To grow or multiply, as a tumor.
  • adjective Set aside for planting a new crop.
  • adjective Intended to help in early stages.
  • idiom (go/run) To pass into the seed-bearing stage.
  • idiom (go/run) To become weak or devitalized; deteriorate.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In sugar manufacturing, to start the process of crystallization in (concentrated syrup) by placing crystals of sugar, from a previous step in the process, to serve as seed or starting-points.
  • noun The larvæ of the lac-insect.
  • noun In sugar manufacturing, crystals of sugar placed in concentrated syrup to serve as starting-points for fresh crystallization.
  • noun The fertilized and matured ovule of the higher or flowering plants.
  • noun The male fecundating fluid; semen; sperm or milt, as of fish; spat, as of oysters: without a plural.
  • noun Very young animals, as oysters.
  • noun Progeny; offspring; children; descendants: as. the seed of Abraham; the seed of David.
  • noun Race; generation; birth.
  • noun That from which anything springs: firstprinciple; origin: often in the plural: as, the seeds of virtue or vice; to sow the seeds of discord.
  • noun Same as red-seed: a fishermen's term.
  • noun The egg or eggs of the commercial silkwormmoth, Sericaria mori.
  • noun In glass-making, one of the small bubbles which form in imperfectly fused glass, and which, when the glass is worked, assume elongated or ovoid forms, resembling the shapes of some seeds.


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

[Middle English, from Old English sǣd, sēd; see sē- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English seed, from Old English sēd, sǣd ("seed, that which is sown"), from Proto-Germanic *sēdiz (“seed”), from Proto-Indo-European *sētis-, from Proto-Indo-European *sēy- (“to sow, throw”). Cognate with Dutch zaad ("seed"), German Saat ("seed"), Swedish säd ("seed"), Latin satio ("seeding, time of sowing, season"). More at sow.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word seed.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Contronymic in the sense: go to seed, deteriorate vs. vital beginning.

    January 31, 2007

  • "Now the parable is that: The seed is the Word of God."

    Luke 8:11

    October 25, 2007

  • For the opposite sense of the word, see the Sublime song seed.

    October 26, 2007

  • SEED - (v.) - Southern slang past tense of "to see".

    April 8, 2008

  • I seed that gubmint feller by the fence

    August 27, 2009

  • The egg or eggs of the commercial silkworm moth, Sericaria mori. --from the CD&C Definitions.

    November 30, 2011

  • of the small bubbles which form in imperfectly fused glass, and which, when the glass is worked, assume elongated or ovoid forms, resembling the shapes of some seeds.

    January 15, 2013