One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The elementary principle or germ of all things; (now) specifically the microorganisms or chemical precursors to life thought to be present in space by proponents of panspermia. Formerly also: †a collection of all different types of seed (obsolete).
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Nathan Bailey (d. 1742), lexicographer and schoolmaster. From pan- + sperm, in early use probably after panspermatic, in later use after panspermia or panspermy.
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