: free from other living organisms
axenically adverb

Examples of axenic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Inoculation of axenic cockroaches with individual bacterial taxa significantly rescued the aggregation response to the fecal extract, and inoculation with a mix of six bacterial isolates was more effective than with single isolates. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 17 Dec. 2015 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'axenic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 13 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


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