germ warfare


: the use of harmful microorganisms (such as bacteria) as weapons in war

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Emergent BioSolutions, which Mr. El-Hibri took public in 2006, bought up competitors in order to sell treatments for smallpox, botulism and other potential agents of germ warfare, becoming a prime federal contractor for biodefense vaccines and treatments. Emily Langer, Washington Post, 5 May 2022 The germ warfare somehow didn’t affect women. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 5 Mar. 2021 In the 1940s, the scientific consensus was leaning towards a concept of microscopic germ warfare, a sustained battle for survival among bacteria and fungi, all equipped with their own unique and evolutionarily refined weapons in the form of antibiotics and antifungal agents. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 1 Sep. 2015 In the 21st century, the practice has become a form of germ warfare., 19 May 2021 The allegations of germ warfare were worldwide news in the first months of 1952. The Economist, 3 Oct. 2020 The Soviets had a keen interest in the Marburg virus in the 1980s and managed to develop an especially lethal strain after an accident at the Vector Institute, their germ warfare center in Siberia. Lucy Cooke, ajc, 3 July 2018 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1938, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of germ warfare was in 1938

Dictionary Entries Near germ warfare

Cite this Entry

“Germ warfare.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Medical Definition

germ warfare

germ war·​fare -ˈwȯr-ˌfe(ə)r How to pronounce germ warfare (audio)
: the use of harmful microorganisms (as bacteria) as weapons in war

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