mi·​crobe | \ ˈmī-ˌkrōb How to pronounce microbe (audio) \

Definition of microbe

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Other Words from microbe

microbial \ mī-​ˈkrō-​bē-​əl How to pronounce microbial (audio) \ or less commonly microbic \ mī-​ˈkrō-​bik How to pronounce microbic (audio) \ adjective
microbially \ mī-​ˈkrō-​bē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce microbially (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

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 These microbes—some the size of bacteria—were first discovered in amoeba in 2003. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Scientists discover virus with no recognizable genes," 7 Feb. 2020 Part of the problem is that, since the advent of germ theory in the late nineteenth century, public health authorities have tackled infectious diseases as a problem of invasive microbes, which must be isolated and destroyed with killing chemicals. Time, "The Pandemic of Xenophobia and Scapegoating," 3 Feb. 2020 Meltwater from glaciers and ice caps could ferry harmful pathogens along streams, rivers, and other important waterways, potentially exposing humans to new microbes, the researchers report. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Welp, Scientists Found 28 New Virus Groups in a Melting Glacier," 23 Jan. 2020 Fortuitously, Wuhan is home to the highest biosafety level laboratory in China, a level four facility that opened only two years ago and is designed for work on the most dangerous microbes, like Ebola and Lassa fever. Washington Post, "Chinese officials urge people not to travel in and out of city at center of virus outbreak," 21 Jan. 2020 The microbes, which are adapted to life in the cold seafloor, have a slow-motion existence. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, "This Strange Microbe May Mark One of Life’s Great Leaps," 15 Jan. 2020 The gastrointestinal tract can block probiotics from colonizing among natural microbes, a September 2018 study found. Molly Glick, Popular Science, "Google results for probiotics are totally unreliable," 15 Jan. 2020 Schroeder and his colleagues identified a host of microbial taxa from the sample, some of which were part of the community of microbes that live, often harmlessly, in and on humans called the microbiome. Jim Daley, Scientific American, "Ancient “Chewing Gum” Reveals a 5,700-Year-Old Microbiome," 17 Dec. 2019 In the first study, researchers reviewed 47 studies looking at associations between the collective genomes of the gut microbes and 13 common diseases. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "The microbes in your gut could predict whether you’re likely to die in the next 15 years," 22 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for microbe

Time Traveler

The first known use of microbe was in 1878

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Statistics for microbe

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Microbe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microbic?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=m&file=microb04. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for microbe


How to pronounce microbe (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of microbe

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


mi·​crobe | \ ˈmī-ˌkrōb How to pronounce microbe (audio) \

Kids Definition of microbe

: a very tiny and often harmful living thing : microorganism


mi·​crobe | \ ˈmī-ˌkrōb How to pronounce microbe (audio) \

Medical Definition of microbe

: microorganism, germ used especially of pathogenic bacteria

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More from Merriam-Webster on microbe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with microbe

Spanish Central: Translation of microbe

Nglish: Translation of microbe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of microbe for Arabic Speakers

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