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[mahy-krohb] /ˈmaɪ kroʊb/
a microorganism, especially a pathogenic bacterium.
1880-85; < French < Greek mīkro- micro- + bíos life
Related forms
microbeless, adjective
microbial, microbic, microbian, adjective
nonmicrobic, adjective
unmicrobial, adjective
unmicrobic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for microbes
  • Consider the use of antibiotics to combat disease-causing microbes.
  • The size of a sesame seed, the third gut contains a dense mush of symbiotic microbes.
  • When human beings and domesticated animals live close together, they trade microbes with abandon.
  • Today ticks still rule over immense tracts of the terrestrial globe, and microbes rule absolutely.
  • Small fish consume the microbes, large fish consume the small fish, and eventually the toxin lands in kitchens.
  • Cleaning showerheads with bleach will not do since the microbes will simply return with a fresh flow of water.
  • Importantly, the genomes of microbes can and do evolve and be shaped by how well they navigate their hosts.
  • Animals, plants and microbes can now migrate across the planet to new homes with unprecedented ease.
  • At the moment, the microbes which make biofuels almost all do so through fermentation.
  • Beach monitoring tests look for fecal microbes that cause stomach illnesses.
British Dictionary definitions for microbes


any microscopic organism, esp a disease-causing bacterium
Derived Forms
microbial, microbic, (rare) microbian, adjective
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for microbes



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
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microbes in Medicine

microbe mi·crobe (mī'krōb')
A microorganism, especially a bacterium that causes disease; a minute life form. No longer in technical use.

mi·cro'bi·al (mī-krō'bē-əl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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microbes in Science
A microorganism, especially a bacterium that causes disease. See Note at germ.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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