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[an-ti-juh n, -jen] /ˈæn tɪ dʒən, -ˌdʒɛn/
Immunology. any substance that can stimulate the production of antibodies and combine specifically with them.
Pharmacology. any commercial substance that, when injected or absorbed into animal tissues, stimulates the production of antibodies.
antigens of a particular type collectively.
Origin of antigen
1905-10; anti(body) + -gen
Related forms
[an-ti-jen-ik] /ˌæn tɪˈdʒɛn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
antigenically, adverb
[an-ti-juh-nis-i-tee] /ˌæn tɪ dʒəˈnɪs ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for antigens
  • But the layers can be alternated to any thickness desired, and inconvenient antigens thus hidden from view.
  • They will be able to create diseases that change antigens frequently thus never giving our immune system time to adapt.
  • As humans age, he noted, our immune systems are exposed to all sorts of infections to which our bodies develop specific antigens.
  • These harmful substances have proteins called antigens on their surfaces.
  • As soon as these antigens enter the body, the immune system recognizes them as foreign and attacks them.
  • Normally the immune system's white blood cells help protect the body from harmful substances, called antigens.
  • Vaccines work by exposing the body to particles called antigens, which trigger an immune response.
  • Some have learned to trick us by changing their antigens, those molecular pieces of the microbe that our antibodies recognize.
  • The authors described the results as a starting point for the preparation and evaluation of synthetic antibodies for key antigens.
British Dictionary definitions for antigens


/ˈæntɪdʒən; -ˌdʒɛn/
a substance that stimulates the production of antibodies
Derived Forms
antigenic, adjective
antigenically, adverb
Word Origin
C20: from anti(body) + -gen
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 antigens



"substance that causes production of an antibody," 1908, from German Antigen, from French antigène (1899), from anti- (see anti-) + Greek -gen (see -gen).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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antigens in Medicine

antigen an·ti·gen (ān'tĭ-jən)
Any of various substances, including toxins, bacteria, and the cells of transplanted organs, that when introduced into the body stimulate the production of antibodies. Also called allergen, immunogen.

an'ti·gen'ic (-jěn'ĭk) 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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antigens in Science
A substance that stimulates the production of an antibody when introduced into the body. Antigens include toxins, bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances. Compare antibody. See Note at blood type.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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antigens in Culture
antigens [(an-ti-juhnz)]

Substances that are foreign to the body and cause the production of antibodies. Toxins, invading bacteria and viruses, and the cells of transplanted organs can all function as antigens.

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