an·​aer·​o·​bic | \ ˌa-nə-ˈrō-bik How to pronounce anaerobic (audio) ; ˌan-ˌer-ˈō-\

Definition of anaerobic

1a : 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

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Other Words from anaerobic

anaerobically \ -​bi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anaerobically (audio) \ 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.

Examples of anaerobic in a Sentence

Weight lifting is an anaerobic exercise. Some bacteria are aerobic and others are anaerobic.

Recent Examples on the Web

Thanks to an anaerobic digester (turning waste into energy), there isn't even a trash can. Tabitha Joyce, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why the World's Best Chefs Care About Trash," 23 Aug. 2019 The manure had been held in an anaerobic digester tank, which began operating at the port in 2013., "Massive manure spill near Tillamook Bay poses no health risk, state says," 25 July 2019 In warming areas that grow boggier every year, this might mean ensuring that there is enough oxygen-rich moving water, which would make the area less hospitable to anaerobic microbes that belch large quantities of methane. Quanta Magazine, "Below Our Feet, a World of Hidden Life," 16 June 2015 The manure had been held in an anaerobic digester tank, which breaks down dung into biogas that can be used for electricity and fertilizer for farms and agriculture., "Manure spill splashes 300,000 gallons near Tillamook Bay," 23 July 2019 The waste is then composted at an anaerobic digester, which creates renewable energy from the process, Williams said. Shannon Larson,, "Eco-conscious apartment dwellers: You too can compost, experts say," 5 July 2019 Aerobic respiration, based on oxygen, provides metabolic energy about 18 times as efficiently as anaerobic respiration does. Quanta Magazine, "Rapid Oxygen Changes Fueled an Explosion in Ancient Animal Diversity," 9 May 2019 Gangrene, an anaerobic infection, was common in war wounds, and Stewart helped developed toxoids for gangrene treatment and immunization that would later be used in World War II. Leila Mcneill, Smithsonian, "The Woman Who Revealed the Missing Link Between Viruses and Cancer," 17 June 2019 The resting heart rate decreased on average by 10 beats per minute – with the anaerobic power and capacity improving by 16.7% and 17.3%, respectively. Mackie Shilstone,, "Interval training beats continuous exercise to burn fat," 12 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of anaerobic

1877, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

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The first known use of anaerobic was in 1877

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English Language Learners Definition of anaerobic

of exercise : strengthening muscles by forcing them to work very hard for a brief time
technical : not using oxygen


an·​aer·​o·​bic | \ ˌan-ə-ˈrō-bik; ˌan-ˌa(-ə)r-ˈō- How to pronounce anaerobic (audio) , -ˌe(-ə)r- How to pronounce anaerobic (audio) \

Medical Definition of anaerobic

1a : 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, 28 Sept. 1986
(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, 22 Sept. 2008
2 : relating to or induced by anaerobes

Other Words from anaerobic

anaerobically \ -​bi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce anaerobically (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on anaerobic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with anaerobic

Britannica English: Translation of anaerobic for Arabic Speakers

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recurring in steady succession

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