axe·​nic | \ (ˌ)ā-ˈze-nik, -ˈzē- \

Definition of axenic 

: free from other living organisms

Other Words from axenic

axenically \ -​ni-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

First Known Use of axenic

1942, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for axenic

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

Note: Term 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."

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about axenic

Statistics for axenic

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for axenic

The first known use of axenic was in 1942

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for axenic


axe·​nic | \ (ˈ)ā-ˈzen-ik, -ˈzēn- \

Medical Definition of axenic 

: free from other living organisms an axenic culture of bacteria

Other Words from axenic

axenically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Comments on axenic

What made you want to look up axenic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by shyness and lack of polish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!