- a microorganism, especially when disease-producing; microbe.
- a bud, offshoot, or seed.
- the rudiment of a living organism; an embryo in its early stages.
- the initial stage in development or evolution, as a germ cell or ancestral form.
- something that serves as a source or initial stage for subsequent development: the germ of an idea.
- Pathology. of, relating to, or caused by disease-producing germs.
Origin of germ
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for germless
In contact with germless air the uncontaminated must never ferments.Fragments of science, V. 1-2
The streams are germless, and the forest cannot be devastated.Cavanagh: Forest Ranger
"Lad is just as clean and as germless as I am," declared the Mistress, with some warmth.Lad: A Dog
Albert Payson Terhune
He varied the experiment in every direction, but matter in the germless air never yielded life.Natural Law in the Spiritual World
- a microorganism, esp one that produces disease in animals or plants
- (often plural) the rudimentary or initial form of somethingthe germs of revolution
- a simple structure, such as a fertilized egg, that is capable of developing into a complete organism
Word Origin and History for germless
mid-15c., "bud, sprout;" 1640s, "rudiment of a new organism in an existing one," from Middle French germe "germ (of egg); bud, seed, fruit; offering," from Latin germen (genitive germinis) "sprout, bud," perhaps from PIE root *gen- "to beget, bear" (see genus). The older sense is preserved in wheat germ and germ of an idea; sense of "seed of a disease" first recorded 1803; that of "harmful microorganism" dates from 1871. Germ warfare recorded from 1920.
- A small mass of protoplasm or cells from which a new organism or one of its parts may develop.
- A microorganism, especially a pathogen.
- A microscopic organism or agent, especially one that is pathogenic, such as a bacterium or virus.
Usage: The terms germ and microbe have been used to refer to invisible agents of disease since the nineteenth century, when scientists introduced the germ theory of disease, the idea that infections and contagious diseases are caused by microorganisms. Microbe, a shortening and alteration of microorganism, comes from the Greek prefix mikro-, small, and the word bios, life. Scientists no longer use the terms germ and microbe very much. Today they can usually identify the specific agents of disease, such as individual species of bacteria or viruses. To refer generally to agents of disease, they use the term pathogen, from the Greek pathos, suffering, and the suffix -gen, producer. They use microorganism to refer to any unicellular organism, whether disease-causing or not.