germ

play
noun \ˈjərm\

Definition of germ

  1. 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. 2 :  something that initiates development or serves as an origin :  rudiments, beginning

  3. 3 :  microorganism; especially :  a microorganism causing disease

Examples of germ in a sentence

  1. the germ that causes tuberculosis

  2. the germ of an idea

  3. the germ layers of an embryo

Origin and Etymology of germ

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


First Known Use: 1644


GERM Defined for English Language Learners

germ

play
noun \ˈjərm\

Definition of germ for English Language Learners

  • biology : a very small living thing that causes disease

  • : the origin or basis of something

  • : a very small amount of something


GERM Defined for Kids

germ

play
noun \ˈjərm\

Definition of germ for Students

  1. 1 :  a source from which something develops <the germ of an idea>

  2. 2 :  a microorganism (as a bacterium) that causes disease

  3. 3 :  a bit of living matter (as a cell) capable of forming a new individual or one of its parts


Medical Dictionary

germ

play
noun \ˈjərm\

Medical Definition of germ

  1. 1:  a small mass of living substance capable of developing into an organism or one of its parts

  2. 2:  microorganism; especially :  a microorganism causing disease



Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a Mesopotamian temple tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • alphabet-magnets
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ