mi·​crobe ˈmī-ˌkrōb How to pronounce microbe (audio)
microbial adjective
or less commonly microbic
microbially adverb

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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 Notably, this integrase may be able to move genes in and out of these populations of bacteria in the oceans and enable these microbes to better adapt to changing environments. Libusha Kelly, The Conversation, 15 May 2024 Each batch is third-party tested for ingredient purity, pesticides, heavy metals, microbes, allergens, and other contaminants. Casey Seiden, Parents, 19 May 2024 Transferring fecal bacteria and other microbes from a healthy individual to a someone who is ill can help restore the balance of bacteria in the intestines. Jordan Greene, Peoplemag, 17 May 2024 Over time, as the caves cooled, the diversity of microbes inside the caves increased. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for microbe 

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1878, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of microbe was in 1878

Dictionary Entries Near microbe

Cite this Entry

“Microbe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microbe. Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


mi·​crobe ˈmī-ˌkrōb How to pronounce microbe (audio)
microbial adjective
also microbic

Medical Definition


mi·​crobe ˈmī-ˌkrōb How to pronounce microbe (audio)
: microorganism, germ
used especially of pathogenic bacteria

More from Merriam-Webster on microbe

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