Germ theory
Germ Germ (j[~e]rm), n. [F. germe, fr. L. germen, germinis, sprout, but, germ. Cf. {Germen}, {Germane}.] 1. (Biol.) That which is to develop a new individual; as, the germ of a fetus, of a plant or flower, and the like; the earliest form under which an organism appears. [1913 Webster]

In the entire process in which a new being originates . . . two distinct classes of action participate; namely, the act of generation by which the germ is produced; and the act of development, by which that germ is evolved into the complete organism. --Carpenter. [1913 Webster]

2. That from which anything springs; origin; first principle; as, the germ of civil liberty. [1913 Webster]

3. (Biol.) The germ cells, collectively, as distinguished from the somatic cells, or {soma}. Germ is often used in place of germinal to form phrases; as, germ area, germ disc, germ membrane, germ nucleus, germ sac, etc. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

4. A microorganism, especially a disease-causing bacterium or virus; -- used informally, as, the don't eat food that falls on the floor, it may have germs on it. [PJC]

{Disease germ} (Biol.), a name applied to certain tiny bacterial organisms or their spores, such as {Anthrax bacillus} and the {Micrococcus} of fowl cholera, which have been demonstrated to be the cause of certain diseases; same as germ[4]. See {Germ theory} (below).

{Germ cell} (Biol.), the germ, egg, spore, or cell from which the plant or animal arises. At one time a part of the body of the parent, it finally becomes detached, and by a process of multiplication and growth gives rise to a mass of cells, which ultimately form a new individual like the parent. See {Ovum}.

{Germ gland}. (Anat.) See {Gonad}.

{Germ stock} (Zo["o]l.), a special process on which buds are developed in certain animals. See {Doliolum}.

{Germ theory} (Biol.), the theory that living organisms can be produced only by the evolution or development of living germs or seeds. See {Biogenesis}, and {Abiogenesis}. As applied to the origin of disease, the theory claims that the zymotic diseases are due to the rapid development and multiplication of various bacteria, the germs or spores of which are either contained in the organism itself, or transferred through the air or water. See {Fermentation theory}. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Germ theory — 1. (Biol.) The theory that living organisms can be produced only by the development of living germs. Cf. {Biogenesis}, {Abiogenesis}. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 2. (Med.) The theory which attributes contagious and infectious diseases, suppurative… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • germ theory — n a theory in medicine: infections, contagious diseases, and various other conditions (as suppurative lesions) result from the action of microorganisms * * * the doctrine that infectious diseases are caused by microorganisms …   Medical dictionary

  • germ theory — n. the theory that diseases are transmitted by specific germs, or microorganisms, as has been proved for many infectious diseases …   English World dictionary

  • germ theory — noun (medicine) the theory that all contagious diseases are caused by microorganisms • Topics: ↑medicine, ↑medical specialty • Hypernyms: ↑scientific theory * * * noun : a theory in medicine: infections, conta …   Useful english dictionary

  • germ theory — 1. Pathol. the theory that infectious diseases are due to the agency of germs or microorganisms. 2. Biol. biogenesis. [1870 75] * * * Theory that certain diseases are caused by invasion of the body by microorganisms. Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister …   Universalium

  • germ theory — germ′ the ory n. 1) pat the theory that infectious diseases are due to the agency of germs or microorganisms 2) bio biogenesis • Etymology: 1870–75 …   From formal English to slang

  • germ theory — /ˈdʒɜm θɪəri/ (say jerm thearree) noun 1. Biology the theory that living matter cannot be produced by evolution or development from non living matter, but is necessarily produced from germs or seeds; the doctrine of biogenesis. 2. Pathology the… …   Australian English dictionary

  • germ theory — noun Date: 1870 a theory in medicine: infections, contagious diseases, and various other conditions result from the action of microorganisms …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • GERM THEORY —    the doctrine that certain diseases are due to fermentation caused by the presence of germs in the system in the form of minute organisms called bacteria …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Germ theory of disease — The germ theory, also called the pathogenic theory of medicine, is a theory that proposes that microorganisms are the cause of many diseases. Although highly controversial when first proposed, it is now a cornerstone of modern medicine and… …   Wikipedia

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