mi·crobe | \ ˈmī-ˌkrōb \

Definition of microbe 

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Other words from microbe

microbial \mī-ˈkrō-bē-əl \ or less commonly microbic \-bik \ adjective

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A hint of the Greek word bios, meaning "life", can be seen in microbe. Microbes, or microorganisms, include bacteria, protozoa, fungi, algae, amoebas, and slime molds. Many people think of microbes as simply the causes of disease, but every human is actually the host to billions of microbes, and most of them are essential to our life. Much research is now going into possible microbial sources of future energy; algae looks particularly promising, as do certain newly discovered or created microbes that can produce cellulose, to be turned into ethanol and other biofuels.

Examples of microbe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Viruses that had specifically evolved to kill those microbes might be able to help. Eric Boodman, STAT, "First phage therapy center in the U.S. signals growing acceptance," 21 June 2018 The chemistry there is harsh, but microbes on Earth can tolerate acidic, sulfur-rich conditions. NBC News, "NASA has a plan to let humans soar above the clouds on Venus," 5 June 2018 Those microbes produce short-chain fatty acids that get absorbed into the bloodstream and reduce inflammation while strengthening the immune system. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, "10 Foods Filled With Probiotics," 12 Apr. 2018 Now scientists have genetically engineered a microbe that combines features of both domains, offering insight into how this pivotal event occurred. Prachi Patel, Scientific American, "Engineered Microbe Shakes Up the Tree of Life," 13 July 2018 The company is designing microbes that can live on the roots of plants and produce nitrogen, reducing the need for chemical fertilizer in some farming. Rebecca Spalding, Bloomberg.com, "The DNA Cops Who Make Sure the World’s Deadliest Viruses Aren’t Rebuilt," 27 June 2018 The company is designing microbes that can live on the roots of plants and produce nitrogen, reducing the need for chemical fertilizer in some farming. Fortune, "These DNA Cops Make Sure Deadly Viruses Don't Get Rebuilt," 27 June 2018 As a result, the hot-spring microbes and their fossils are similar to ancient bacteria. Ula Chrobak, Outside Online, "This Scientist Learns About Life on Mars in Yellowstone," 18 June 2018 Cherries, apples and apricots are full of fruity malic acid, and the microbes in the kefir culture manufacture creamy lactic and bracing acetic acid. Ali Bouzari, San Francisco Chronicle, "Housemade: The silent science behind three signature dishes at Duna," 12 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'microbe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of microbe

1878, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for microbe

International Scientific Vocabulary micr- + Greek bios life — more at quick entry 1

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Statistics for microbe

Last Updated

24 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for microbe

The first known use of microbe was in 1878

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More Definitions for microbe



English Language Learners Definition of microbe

: an extremely small living thing that can only be seen with a microscope


mi·crobe | \ ˈmī-ˌkrōb \

Kids Definition of microbe

: a very tiny and often harmful living thing : microorganism


mi·crobe | \ ˈmī-ˌkrōb \

Medical Definition of microbe 

: microorganism, germ used especially of pathogenic bacteria

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Comments on microbe

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


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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