One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: any of various bacilli found in faecal matter. In later use: any bacterium of the family Enterobacteriaceae, the members of which are straight Gram-negative rods which inhabit water, soil, decaying organic material, and plants as well as animals, and include important pathogens of both animals and plants.
1920s. From entero- + bacterium, perhaps after French entérobacterie. In later use perhaps after scientific Latin Enterobacterium, subgenus name or Enterobacteriaceae, family name.
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