: free from other living organisms
axenically adverb

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Olfactory and aggregation bioassays demonstrated that nymphs strongly preferred the extract of control feces over the fecal extract of axenic cockroaches. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 17 Dec. 2015

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

Word History


Greek a- a- entry 2 + xénos "foreigner, guest" + -ic entry 1 — more at xeno-

Note: The term was introduced by the American biologist James A. Baker (1910-75) and his Rockefeller Institute co-worker M.S. Ferguson in the article "Growth of Platyfish (Platypoecilus maculatus) Free from Bacteria and Other Microörganisms," Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, vol. 51 (October, 1942), pp. 116-19. The authors thus etymologize the word in a footnote: "Axenic is derived from two Greek words: A—meaning without or free from, and Xenos—denoting a stranger or foreign life. An axenic organism, as here defined, is a species free from any life apart from that produced by its own protoplasm …The writers are greatly indebted to Professor A.C. Johnson, Department of Classics, Princeton University, for suggesting and defining the term axenic."

First Known Use

1942, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of axenic was in 1942

Dictionary Entries Near axenic

Cite this Entry

“Axenic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/axenic. Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


: free from other living organisms
an axenic culture of bacteria
axenically adverb
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