petri dish


pe·​tri dish ˈpē-trē- How to pronounce petri dish (audio)
variants or less commonly Petri dish
plural petri dishes also Petri dishes
: a small shallow usually round dish of thin glass or plastic with a loose cover used especially for growing cells or microorganisms on a supportive medium (such as agar combined with nutrients)
… the protein extracted from human cancer cells could stimulate the growth of blood vessels in experiments with chicken embryos and tumor cells growing in petri dishes.Tina Hesman
Unfortunately, most laboratories can diagnose tuberculosis with certainty, or exclude it, only by placing sputum in a petri dish and waiting to see if the bacterium grows …The New York Times
… they found that the compound, sulforaphane, fights cancer in petri dishes.Doug Levy
: something (such as a place or situation) that fosters development
Of course being there for your team tends to contaminate your team. Our radio studio is currently a petri dish of disease.Matt Heath
"We view universities as a community's most promising petri dish for innovation," said Abby Taubner …Alex Wittenberg
MTV's The Real World, which sends seven attractive young strangers to spend six months turning their luxury housing into a Petri dish of sexual, racial, and interpersonal tension, has been running since 1992.Francine Prose

Examples of petri dish in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Scientists could run entire experiments on their computers rather than in petri dishes. Carl Zimmer, New York Times, 10 Mar. 2024 Patients self-administer hormone injections to stimulate egg production, and medical staff retrieve mature eggs from ovaries, place them in petri dishes and fertilize them with sperm. Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2024 Many assume that no such evidence exists because Washington never created entirely new villages and then watched over them as a scientist would over a petri dish. Amity Shlaes, National Review, 10 Jan. 2024 But a petri dish on a pole was not going to cut it. Emily Anthes, New York Times, 26 Dec. 2023 The director of Germany's National Reference Centre for Invasive Fungal Infections holds a petri dish containing the yeast Candida auris in a laboratory at Wuerzburg University. Mark Takahashi, Ars Technica, 27 Sep. 2023 What Thiel saw was Facebook’s potential as a vast petri dish for new strains of mimetic desire—and this is exactly what social media has given us. Michelle Orange, Harper's Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 When passing over a layer of additional human neurons grown within the lab petri dish, the anthrobots scratched their surfaces and encouraged new growth. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 30 Nov. 2023 Two days ahead of the opening, as staff were polishing video panels and placing petri dishes under microscopes (some containing fabric swatches; others, insect specimens), Van Herpen has arrived directly from the train station and seems amazed by the progress. Amy Verner, Vogue, 29 Nov. 2023

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

Word History


Julius R. Petri †1921 German bacteriologist

First Known Use

1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of petri dish was in 1892

Dictionary Entries Near petri dish

Cite this Entry

“Petri dish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

Petri dish

Pe·​tri dish
: a small shallow dish of thin glass or plastic with a loose cover used especially for cultures of bacteria

Medical Definition

petri dish

pe·​tri dish
variants also Petri dish
: a small shallow usually round dish of thin glass or plastic with a loose cover used especially for growing cells on a supportive medium (such as agar combined with nutrients)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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