spontaneous generation

noun

Definition of spontaneous generation

: a now discredited notion that living organisms spontaneously originate directly from nonliving matter A difficulty that we have forgotten lay in the widespread belief in spontaneous generation. Aristotle had written that flies, worms, and other small animals originated spontaneously from putrefying matter.— Daniel J. Boorstin

Examples of spontaneous generation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

By the late 19th century, writes Encyclopedia Britannica, scientists had ceased to believe that, for instance, cheese could spontaneously generate mice, but spontaneous generation at the microbial level was still accepted. Kat Eschner, Smithsonian, "How Sheep’s Blood Helped Disprove This Wacky Nineteenth-Century Theory of Illness," 13 June 2017

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

First Known Use of spontaneous generation

1665, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spontaneous generation

Statistics for spontaneous generation

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spontaneous generation

The first known use of spontaneous generation was in 1665

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spontaneous generation

spontaneous generation

noun

Medical Definition of spontaneous generation

More from Merriam-Webster on spontaneous generation

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spontaneous generation

Comments on spontaneous generation

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

WORD OF THE DAY

incapable of being surmounted or overcome

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!