noun, plural bacilli [buh-sil-ahy] .
any rod-shaped or cylindrical bacterium of the genus Bacillus, comprising spore-producing bacteria. See diag. under bacteria.
(formerly) any bacterium.

1880–85; < Late Latin, variant of Latin bacillum (diminutive of baculum) staff, walking stick Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bacillus (bəˈsɪləs)
n , pl -cilli
1.  coccus Compare spirillum any rod-shaped bacterium, such as a clostridium bacterium
2.  any of various rodlike spore-producing bacteria constituting the family Bacillaceae, esp of the genus Bacillus
[C19: from Latin: a small staff, from baculum walking stick]

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Word Origin & History

1883, from Mod.L., "little rod," from L.L. bacillus "wand," lit. "little staff," dim. of baculum "a stick," from PIE base *bak- "staff," also source of Gk. bakterion (see bacteria). Introduced as a term in bacteriology 1853 by Ger. botanist Ferdinand Cohn (1828-1898).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

bacillus ba·cil·lus (bə-sĭl'əs)
n. pl. ba·cil·li (-sĭl'ī')

  1. Any of various rod-shaped, usually gram-positive aerobic bacteria of the genus Bacillus that often occur in chains and include Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax.

  2. Any of various bacteria, especially a rod-shaped bacterium.

Bacillus (bə-sĭl'əs)
A genus of rod-shaped gram-positive bacteria capable of producing endospores.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
bacillus   (bə-sĭl'əs)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural bacilli (bə-sĭl'ī')
Any of various pathogenic bacteria, especially one that is rod-shaped.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
By parasitism next comes the proto-bacillus or fungus, living on the green cells.
But his nervous system had begun to be affected through the toxins evolved by the bacillus of his disease.
However, humans, whales and magnolia trees are more complex than a bacillus.
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