spontaneous generation


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 In fact, cells that generate their own cilia without centrioles or deuterosomes already have a name: de novo, basically meaning spontaneous generation. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Mammalian Cells Are More Mysterious Than We Thought," 30 Dec. 2019 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

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Time Traveler for spontaneous generation

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The first known use of spontaneous generation was in 1665

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Statistics for spontaneous generation

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spontaneous generation.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spontaneous%20generation. Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for spontaneous generation

spontaneous generation


Medical Definition of spontaneous generation

More from Merriam-Webster on spontaneous generation

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spontaneous generation

Comments on spontaneous generation

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to insert between existing elements

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