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abiogenesis

[ey-bahy-oh-jen-uh-sis, ab-ee-oh-] /ˌeɪ baɪ oʊˈdʒɛn ə sɪs, ˌæb i oʊ-/
noun, Biology
1.
the now discredited theory that living organisms can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter; spontaneous generation.
Origin
a-6 + biogenesis; coined by T. H. Huxley in 1870
Related forms
abiogenetic
[ey-bahy-oh-juh-net-ik, ab-ee-oh-] /ˌeɪ baɪ oʊ dʒəˈnɛt ɪk, ˌæb i oʊ-/ (Show IPA),
abiogenetical, adjective
abiogenetically, adverb
abiogenist
[ey-bahy-oj-uh-nist, ab-ee-] /ˌeɪ baɪˈɒdʒ ə nɪst, ˌæb i-/ (Show IPA),
noun
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for abiogenesis

abiogenesis

/ˌeɪbaɪəʊˈdʒɛnɪsɪs/
noun
1.
Also called autogenesis. the hypothetical process by which living organisms first arose on earth from nonliving matter
2.
another name for spontaneous generation Compare biogenesis
Derived Forms
abiogenetic, adjective
abiogenist (ˌeɪbaɪˈɒdʒɪnɪst) noun
Word Origin
C19: New Latin, from a-1 + bio- + genesis
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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abiogenesis in Science
abiogenesis
  (ā'bī-ō-jěn'ĭ-sĭs)   
See spontaneous generation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for abiogenesis

the hypothetical process by which living organisms develop from nonliving matter; also, the archaic theory that utilizes this process to explain the origin of life. Pieces of cheese and bread wrapped in rags and left in a dark corner, for example, were thus thought to produce mice, according to this theory, because after several weeks, there were mice in the rags. Many believed in spontaneous generation because it explained such occurrences as the appearance of maggots on decaying meat.

Learn more about abiogenesis with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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