anaerobic

adjective

an·​aer·​o·​bic ˌa-nə-ˈrō-bik How to pronounce anaerobic (audio) ˌan-ˌer-ˈō- How to pronounce anaerobic (audio)
1
a
: living, active, occurring, or existing in the absence of free oxygen
anaerobic respiration
anaerobic bacteria
b
: of, relating to, or being activity in which the body incurs an oxygen debt
anaerobic exercise
2
: relating to or induced by anaerobes
anaerobically adverb

Did you know?

In Greek, the prefix a- or an- means "not" or "without", and bios means "life". Anaerobic sports and exercise, such as gymnastics, weight lifting, and sprinting, are of high intensity but short duration, so they don't involve much oxygen intake. Anaerobic exercise triggers a different type of cell activity from aerobic exercise. As a result, it doesn't do much for your heart and lungs and it doesn't burn off fat; what it does do is build muscle. Anaerobic bacteria are bacteria that live without oxygen. They're responsible for several nasty conditions, including tetanus, gangrene, botulism, and food poisoning. They often live in deep wounds, so a bad dog bite—or, even worse, a human bite—can be dangerous, since the mouth is full of anaerobic bacteria. But most anaerobic bacteria are harmless, and many are essential to our lives.

Example Sentences

Weight lifting is an anaerobic exercise. Some bacteria are aerobic and others are anaerobic.
Recent Examples on the Web Toxin likely was produced when the potato was added to a bag containing low-acidity pruno ingredients under warm, anaerobic conditions during pruno fermentation. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 23 May 2013 Creatine monohydrate has been shown to enhance total reps during exercises and can improve overall anaerobic capacity. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 11 Oct. 2022 The pants went down with the SS Central America off the Carolina coast during a hurricane in September 1857 and are remarkably well-preserved, thanks to the anaerobic environment where they were found. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 6 Dec. 2022 The process — anaerobic digestion — relies on methane. Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2022 By contrast, neither Los Angeles nor San Diego is fully ready, and the state will need more composting and anaerobic digesting centers. Francine Kiefer, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 Dec. 2021 When normal cells are short on oxygen, the mitochondrial turbines slow; anaerobic glycolysis, or fermentation, takes over. James Somers, The New Yorker, 25 Oct. 2022 Instead, that active recovery not only protected performance improvements but also resulted in an even more pronounced increase in anaerobic capacity than the group that just passively recovered. Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2022 For food waste that cannot be diverted to food banks or other uses, Divert turns it into clean energy via a process called anaerobic digestion. Aaron Pressman, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anaerobic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1877, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of anaerobic was in 1877

Dictionary Entries Near anaerobic

Cite this Entry

“Anaerobic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anaerobic. Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

anaerobic

adjective
an·​aer·​o·​bic ˌan-ə-ˈrō-bik How to pronounce anaerobic (audio)
ˌan-ˌa-(ə-)ˈrō-,
-ˌe-(ə-)ˈrō-
: living, active, or occurring in the absence of free oxygen
anaerobic bacteria
anaerobically
ˌan-ə-ˈrō-bi-k(ə-)lē How to pronounce anaerobic (audio)
ˌan-ˌa-(ə-)ˈrō-
-ˌe-(ə-)ˈro-
adverb

Medical Definition

anaerobic

adjective
1
a
: living, active, or occurring in the absence of free oxygen
during heavy exercise anaerobic respiration occurs, pyruvic acid acts as a hydrogen acceptor, and lactic acid builds up in the tissues
anaerobic bacteria
b(1)
: of, relating to, or being activity in which the body incurs an oxygen debt
an anaerobic workout
Anaerobic activities like sprinting and weight lifting, on the other hand, burn carbohydrates without using oxygen …Jane E. Brody, The New York Times
(2)
: of or relating to the body's ability to incur an oxygen debt
Your anaerobic threshold is basically how long you can last without breathing (your lungs working in oxygen debt) while, say, sprinting or going as hard as you can on a bike or in the pool.Bob Condor, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
2
: relating to or induced by anaerobes
anaerobically adverb

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