plural germs
1
a
: a small mass of living substance capable of developing into an organism or one of its parts
b
: the embryo with the scutellum of a cereal grain that is usually separated from the starchy endosperm during milling
2
: something that initiates development or serves as an origin : rudiments, beginning
3
: a microorganism causing disease : a pathogenic agent (such as a bacterium or virus)
broadly : microorganism

Examples of germ in a Sentence

the germ that causes tuberculosis the germ of an idea the germ layers of an embryo
Recent Examples on the Web While dog lovers cherish their pets’ affection, their licks and nips can potentially spread harmful germs. Sam Anderson, New York Times, 31 May 2024 This heat can kill any foodborne germs that might be present, including the avian influenza viruses. Michelle Marchante, Miami Herald, 28 May 2024 Sanitizing, on the other hand, actually brings down the number of germs on your household surfaces to a level that is deemed safe by public health requirements or standards, which further lowers the chance of spreading infection. Patricia Shannon, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 May 2024 Having blood or other biological material on an instrument isn’t a good sign, but what matters most is whether the germs survived the cleaning process, Safdar said. Meg Wingerter, The Denver Post, 19 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for germ 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'germ.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

French germe, from Latin germin-, germen, from gignere to beget — more at kin

First Known Use

circa 1550, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of germ was circa 1550

Dictionary Entries Near germ

Cite this Entry

“Germ.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/germ. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

germ

noun
1
a
: a small mass of living substance capable of developing into a whole individual or one of its parts
b
: the embryo in the seed of a cereal (as corn or wheat) together with its cotyledon that is usually separated from the starchy part of the seed during milling
2
: something that serves as an origin
the germ of an idea
3
: a microscopic living thing
especially : one that causes disease

Medical Definition

germ

noun
1
: a small mass of living substance capable of developing into an organism or one of its parts
2
: a microorganism causing disease : a pathogenic agent (as a bacterium or virus)
broadly : microorganism

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