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[an-uh-roh-bik, an-ai-] /ˌæn əˈroʊ bɪk, ˌæn ɛə-/
(of an organism or tissue) living in the absence of air or free oxygen.
pertaining to or caused by the absence of oxygen.
Origin of anaerobic
First recorded in 1880-85; anaerobe + -ic
Related forms
anaerobically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for anaerobic
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In anaerobic respiration, CO2 is given off, but no oxygen absorbed.

    The Nature of Animal Light E. Newton Harvey
  • Further, they can be divided into two classes, the aerobic and the anaerobic.

  • It was shown by Eaton and Grantham that anaerobic coagulation is slightly uncertain in action.

  • The butyric acid bacteria are anaerobic, and thus can grow in butter and cheese away from the air.

  • It is by anaerobic organisms, in fact, that the putrefaction of dead bodies is begun.

    Louis Pasteur Ren Vallery-Radot
  • This prevents an extension of the injury and the establishment of a good field for the growth of anaerobic bacteria.

    Lameness of the Horse

    John Victor Lacroix
British Dictionary definitions for anaerobic


(of an organism or process) requiring the absence of or not dependent on the presence of oxygen
of or relating to anaerobes
Compare aerobic
Derived Forms
anaerobically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for anaerobic

"capable of living without oxygen," 1879 (as anaerobian; modern form first attested 1884), from French anaérobie, coined 1863 by French bacteriologist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), from Greek an- "without" (see an- (1)) + aer "air" (see air (n.1)) + bios "life" (see bio-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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anaerobic in Medicine

anaerobic an·aer·o·bic (ān'ə-rō'bĭk, -â-rō'bĭk)

  1. Relating to or being an anaerobe.

  2. Living without oxygen.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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anaerobic in Science
Occurring in the absence of oxygen or not requiring oxygen to live. Anaerobic bacteria produce energy from food molecules without the presence of oxygen. Compare aerobic.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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anaerobic in Culture
anaerobic [(an-uh-roh-bik, an-air-oh-bik)]

A descriptive term for a process, such as fermentation, that can proceed only in the absence of oxygen, or a living thing that can survive only in the absence of oxygen. (Compare aerobic.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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