a microorganism, especially a pathogenic bacterium.

Origin of microbe

1880–85; < French < Greek mīkro- micro- + bíos life
Related formsmi·crobe·less, adjectivemi·cro·bi·al, mi·cro·bic, mi·cro·bi·an, adjectivenon·mi·cro·bic, adjectiveun·mi·cro·bi·al, adjectiveun·mi·cro·bic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for microbial

Contemporary Examples of microbial

  • With these microbial systems in the Pilbara, you can see these things in the field and under the microscope.

  • Particular scientific interest has been focused on bacterial (and other microbial) diversity in our intestines.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Buy That Breast Milk!

    Kent Sepkowitz

    October 22, 2013

  • My research forced me to look at human societies from a microbial point of view, and they looked remarkably fragile.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Coming Bioattack

    Stephan Talty

    June 5, 2009

Historical Examples of microbial

  • Pasteur's discovery of the microbial cause of puerperal fever has in itself enormously reduced the deaths of women in child-birth.

British Dictionary definitions for microbial



any microscopic organism, esp a disease-causing bacterium
Derived Formsmicrobial, microbic or rare microbian, adjective

Word Origin for microbe

C19: from French, from micro- + Greek bios life
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

Word Origin and History for microbial

1879, from Modern Latin microbion (see microbe) + -al (1).



popular name for a bacterium, 1878, from French microbe, "badly coined ... by Sédillot" [Weekley] in 1878 from Greek mikros "small" (see mica) + bios "life" (see bio-). It is an incorrect use of bios; in Greek the word would mean literally "short-lived."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

microbial in Medicine




A microorganism, especially a bacterium that causes disease; a minute life form. No longer in technical use.
Related formsmi•crobi•al (mī-krōbē-əl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

microbial in Science



A microorganism, especially a bacterium that causes disease. See Note at germ.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.