- a microorganism, especially when disease-producing; microbe.
- a bud, offshoot, or seed.
- the rudiment of a living organism; an embryo in its early stages.
- germ cell
- 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 for germ on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for germs
The authors categorized responses that indicated a misunderstanding of possible benefit as “germs are germs” beliefs.Without Education, Antibiotic Resistance Will Be Our Greatest Health Crisis
December 19, 2014
So, they ask, what if germs, looking to spread, drive people to perform rituals?The Midichlorians Made Me Do It: Can Microbes Explain Religion?
August 10, 2014
In fact, it would seem insane to someone in the early 19th century to fear ‘germs.’
We just assume that germs exist—the 5-second rule and everything.
We have basically over-calibrated in our reaction to germs—our aversion to them has created a new vulnerability.
These germs, brought from Venus, were the only cure for the terrible disease.
There were also the germs of two more, one at Providence and the other on Rhode Island.King Philip
John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott
No doubt there were germs in the early Iranian religion of a priestly system.History of Religion
This is a surgical dressing which has been so treated that it is free from germs.Boy Scouts Handbook
Boy Scouts of America
At every act of swallowing, germs are carried into the stomach.Rural Hygiene
Henry N. Ogden
- 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 germs
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.