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germ

[jurm] /dʒɜrm/
noun
1.
a microorganism, especially when disease-producing; microbe.
2.
a bud, offshoot, or seed.
3.
the rudiment of a living organism; an embryo in its early stages.
4.
the initial stage in development or evolution, as a germ cell or ancestral form.
5.
something that serves as a source or initial stage for subsequent development:
the germ of an idea.
adjective
6.
Pathology. of, relating to, or caused by disease-producing germs.
Origin
late Middle English
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English < Middle French germe < Latin germen shoot, sprout, by dissimilation from *genmen, equivalent to gen- (see genitor, genus) + -men resultative noun suffix)
Related forms
germless, adjective
germlike, adjective
Synonyms
4. spark, root, bud, rudiment, seed.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for germs
  • But people who regularly cough and sneeze out into the open air are a public health menace, spreading germs to the rest of us.
  • If toilet germs weird you out, you're probably not going to want to make contact with any germy surfaces.
  • Now to tackle the problem of germs carried into medical facilities by cell phones.
  • The germs of the past were bearing fruit in the present, and in the present the germs of a future harvest were swelling.
  • He shows the same mastery in his delineation of the hidden germs of feeling as of those of sensation.
  • It is because my own spirit contains the germs of these attributes.
  • One folio volume is as ponderous as another, if it crushes down the tender germs of thought.
  • Drinking water infested with germs and parasites or steeped in toxic chemicals is the number-one health problem in the world.
  • With the immediate diagnosis of the culprit germs, doctors won't have to wait for the results of laboratory cultures.
  • Special demonstrations held every day will show you the science behind bioluminescence and how germs are spread between people.
British Dictionary definitions for germs

germ

/dʒɜːm/
noun
1.
a microorganism, esp one that produces disease in animals or plants
2.
(often pl) the rudimentary or initial form of something: the germs of revolution
3.
a simple structure, such as a fertilized egg, that is capable of developing into a complete organism
Word Origin
C17: from French germe, from Latin germen sprig, bud, sprout, seed
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 germs

germ

n.

mid-15c., "bud, sprout;" 1640s, "rudiment of a new organism in an existing one," from Middle French germe "germ (of egg); bud, seed, fruit; offering," from Latin germen (genitive germinis) "sprout, bud," perhaps from PIE root *gen- "to beget, bear" (see genus). The older sense is preserved in wheat germ and germ of an idea; sense of "seed of a disease" first recorded 1803; that of "harmful microorganism" dates from 1871. Germ warfare recorded from 1920.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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germs in Medicine

germ (jûrm)
n.

  1. A small mass of protoplasm or cells from which a new organism or one of its parts may develop.

  2. A microorganism, especially a pathogen.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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germs in Science
germ
  (jûrm)   
A microscopic organism or agent, especially one that is pathogenic, such as a bacterium or virus.

Our Living Language  : The terms germ and microbe have been used to refer to invisible agents of disease since the nineteenth century, when scientists introduced the germ theory of disease, the idea that infections and contagious diseases are caused by microorganisms. Microbe, a shortening and alteration of microorganism, comes from the Greek prefix mikro-, "small," and the word bios, "life." Scientists no longer use the terms germ and microbe very much. Today they can usually identify the specific agents of disease, such as individual species of bacteria or viruses. To refer generally to agents of disease, they use the term pathogen, from the Greek pathos, "suffering," and the suffix -gen, "producer." They use microorganism to refer to any unicellular organism, whether disease-causing or not.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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germs in Culture

germs definition


Microorganisms that can cause disease or infection.

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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