[ in-kyuh-bey-ter, ing- ]
See synonyms for incubator on
  1. an apparatus in which eggs are hatched artificially.

  2. an enclosed apparatus in which prematurely born infants are kept in controlled conditions, as of temperature, for protection and care.

  1. an apparatus in which media inoculated with microorganisms are cultivated at a constant temperature.

  2. a person or thing that incubates.

  3. Business. an enterprise that provides support services to entrepreneurs refining startup concepts, in a continuing and open-ended relationship that includes access to mentoring, networking, or legal assistance, often in a collaborative workspace.: Compare accelerator (def. 9).

Origin of incubator

First recorded in 1855–60; from Late Latin: literally, “one who lies in or upon (something); one who sleeps in a temple or shrine”; see origin at incubate, -tor

Words Nearby incubator Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use incubator in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for incubator


/ (ˈɪnkjʊˌbeɪtə) /

  1. med an enclosed transparent boxlike apparatus for housing prematurely born babies under optimum conditions until they are strong enough to survive in the normal environment

  2. a container kept at a constant temperature in which birds' eggs can be artificially hatched or bacterial cultures grown

  1. a person, animal, or thing that incubates

  2. a commercial property, divided into small work units, which provides equipment and support to new businesses

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

Scientific definitions for incubator


[ ĭnkyə-bā′tər ]

  1. An apparatus in which environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, can be controlled, often used for growing bacterial cultures, hatching eggs artificially, or providing suitable conditions for a chemical or biological reaction.

  2. An apparatus for maintaining an infant, especially one that is ill or born before the usual gestation period, in an environment of controlled temperature, humidity, and oxygen concentration.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for incubator


A specialized crib used in caring for infants, in which the temperature and oxygen content of the air can be controlled. Often, babies who are born prematurely will be placed in an incubator until they have become strong enough to be housed in a regular crib.

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