germ theory

noun
1.
Pathology. the theory that infectious diseases are due to the agency of germs or microorganisms.
2.
Biology, biogenesis.

Origin:
1870–75

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Collins
World English Dictionary
germ theory
 
n
1.  the theory that all infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms
2.  the theory that living organisms develop from other living organisms by the growth and differentiation of germ cells

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

germ theory n.
The doctrine holding that infectious diseases are caused by the activity of microorganisms within the body.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
It was with anthrax, in fact, that the germ theory of disease was firmly
  established.
Vaccines have done more to improve public health than probably any other
  medical advance aside from the germ theory itself.
The germ theory of disease dates to the mid-eighteen-hundreds.
The germ theory of disease was still a century away.
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