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 Others were the product of imperfect observation, such as Lamarck’s theory that acquired characteristics could be inherited or the theory of spontaneous generation. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 22 Dec. 2020 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, 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, 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.

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First Known Use of spontaneous generation

1665, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for spontaneous generation

Time Traveler

The first known use of spontaneous generation was in 1665

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Cite this Entry

“Spontaneous generation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spontaneous%20generation. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for spontaneous generation

spontaneous generation


Medical Definition of spontaneous generation

: a now discredited notion that living organisms spontaneously originate directly from nonliving matter

More from Merriam-Webster on spontaneous generation

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spontaneous generation


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