Definition of seed in English:



  • 1The unit of reproduction of a flowering plant, capable of developing into another such plant.

    ‘cut open the peppers and remove the seeds’
    [as modifier] ‘seed capsules’
    • ‘In the meantime, toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until golden and fragrant.’
    • ‘Why, I wonder, would 5 million farmers on five continents around the world want to sow GM seeds?’
    • ‘Not all viable seeds produced in natural plant populations germinate in the season following their production.’
    • ‘The embryos of imbibed seeds had a water content six times that of dry seeds.’
    • ‘However, in a few cases, seeds of plants cultivated in botanical gardens were also used.’
    • ‘Plants with relatively low seed mass, total seeds, and flower production are expected to have larger values on this axis.’
    • ‘We collected fruits and counted the total number of flowers, fruits, and fully developed undamaged seeds from each plant.’
    • ‘They flower from March to June and disperse mature seeds from May to July in the second year.’
    • ‘These seeds were similar in size and buoyancy characteristics to the seeds of cobble beach plants.’
    • ‘Germinated seeds were planted individually in ceramic pots containing 300 ml of vermiculite, and then inoculated.’
    • ‘Can the mustard seed ever grow too big?’
    • ‘Most weed seeds germinate only in the top two inches of soil.’
    • ‘The germinated seeds were planted in gravel and further incubated under culture room conditions.’
    • ‘The grains represent hope and the honey and poppy seeds symbolise happiness and peace.’
    • ‘In maize, as in all flowering plants, the seed develops inside a coat of maternal origin.’
    • ‘Sunflower seeds are sown in the first fortnight of October.’
    • ‘This species feeds primarily on fruits and the seeds of herbaceous plants.’
    • ‘The proportion of flowers and ovules that develop into fruits and seeds in flowering plants rarely reaches 1.’
    • ‘The germinating asparagus seed has a very large radicle (root).’
    • ‘That imbalance prevents seeds and pollen from developing normally, making the mutant plants sterile.’
    pip, stone, pit, nut, kernel, germ
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    1. 1.1[mass noun]A quantity of seeds.
      ‘grass seed’
      ‘you can grow artichokes from seed’
      • ‘In more trials with indigenous plants, his immediate challenge was to amass sufficient quantities of seed so that large areas might be replanted.’
      • ‘Plants were covered with perforated bags after seed set to prevent loss of seed when ears shattered at maturity.’
      • ‘Mutants of this class display shortened hypocotyls and small cotyledons after irradiation of seed.’
      • ‘Mike and Polly travel extensively, especially to the USA, bringing back small quantities of seed from which they grow stock plants.’
      • ‘A hydro-seeder is just a machine that mixes water, grass seed, fertilizer and mulch into a slurry that is sprayed onto your lawn.’
      • ‘You go to the local nursery and get grass seed to fill these patches.’
      • ‘Besides cutting back overhanging trees on a three-mile stretch of path, volunteers also laid grass seed and collected debris.’
      • ‘Grow annual plants like Amaranthus and Agastache, which produce large quantities of seed, valuable food for adult sparrows.’
      • ‘Now specimens grown from seed have been air-freighted to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh as part of a global effort to ensure the species' long-term survival.’
      • ‘They can be grown from seed if the seeds are collected in the fall and sown on top of moist peat at about 70 degrees F.’
      • ‘Today only four clusters of seed companies provide seed to farmers around the world.’
      • ‘In 1997, Oregon seed growers produced nearly 640 million pounds of grass seed on 439,000 acres of cropland.’
      • ‘In advance of the Korean Olympics in Seoul in 1988 the company supplied a large quantity of seed for red onions - for pizzas.’
      • ‘Combine recycled grass clippings instead of grass seed with sand for your divot mix.’
      • ‘Myrsine africana and Montinia caryophyllacea were grown from seed.’
      • ‘The firm sold several hundred tons of the GM maize seed to US farmers over the past four years.’
      • ‘Dovuro organises production of commercial quantities of seed, and markets seeds to distributors.’
      • ‘It plans to supply $15,000 in grass seed and other funds to boost conservation efforts in Illinois and Iowa.’
      • ‘Inclusion of this genotype in the other treatments was not possible because of the low number of viable seed available.’
    2. 1.2The cause or latent beginning of a feeling, process, or condition.
      ‘the conversation sowed a tiny seed of doubt in his mind’
      • ‘Sadly, while Franklin sows seeds of reasonable doubt in the early going, before long the answers are agonizingly clear.’
      • ‘The seed was planted to develop an incredible, retail frozen custard product with a taste that would span the likes of many generations.’
      • ‘An individualist does not ponder ways to bring people together in an organised fashion, which is the seed of the mental process required to think up a new game.’
      • ‘This only sows seeds of meanness in your heart, causing others not to trust you and causing you to suffer.’
      • ‘More bad publicity in the media has suggested that all may not be well with new homes, sowing seeds of doubts in the minds of potential buyers.’
      • ‘The seeds of doubt were already well entrenched in his mind.’
      • ‘In today's church, there are those who spread the seeds of doubt about the meaning of Genesis.’
      • ‘His father didn't win the seat, but the seed certainly was sown for the younger Campbell.’
      • ‘A disappointing winter tour in Australia was followed by an indifferent start to the domestic season, and inevitably a seed of doubt had been sown in the public mind.’
      • ‘it puts the seed of doubt in the back of their minds.’
      • ‘If we had scored it could possibly have sowed some seeds of doubt in their minds and raised our confidence levels.’
      • ‘It would be a stronger book had it acknowledged the social and political conditions required for the seed of great ideas to bloom.’
      • ‘The new management need to get a few wins in the league for confidence and credibility, otherwise the seeds of doubt begin to be sown.’
      • ‘There was a cause for happiness among the organisers because the seeds for self-employment were sown effectively.’
      • ‘Initiatives like these would sow seeds of peace throughout the world, he said.’
      genesis, source, origin, root, starting point, germ, beginnings
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  • 2[mass noun] A man's semen.

    • ‘In a similar way, human males feel a biological need to release their seed at frequent intervals.’
    • ‘He only has two functional modes: he's either quoting the encyclopedia or looking to release his seed.’
    semen, sperm, spermatic fluid, seminal fluid, milt, ejaculate, emission
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    1. 2.1archaic (chiefly in biblical use) a person's offspring or descendants.
      ‘as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed’
      • ‘The key is that the promise was made to Abraham and to his seed, that is, to one seed, to one offspring.’
      descendants, heirs, successors, scions
      View synonyms
  • 3Any of a number of stronger competitors in a sports tournament who have been assigned a specified position in an ordered list with the aim of ensuring that they do not play each other in the early rounds.

    ‘he knocked the top seed out of the championships’
    • ‘While the field is not as strong, it's no different from 1999 when Woods was the only seed remaining after three rounds.’
    • ‘In an NCAA tournament with more than 2,000 teams, the top seed would probably lose on a buzzer beater eventually.’
    • ‘Kandarr used a strong service game to knock off Frazier, the second seed eliminated from the tournament.’
    • ‘The Stars coasted into the play-offs last season as the top seed in the West, then were dumped in the second round by Anaheim.’
    • ‘Pakistan have been placed in Pool A of the Olympic tournament with top seeds Germany, Spain, Korea, Great Britain and Egypt.’
    • ‘‘We will look at the top seeds at this tournament for the India trip because it is the only way we can send the right body builders,’ he said.’
    • ‘Honeychurch entered the tournament as the top seed.’
    • ‘This is an awfully tough game for a top seed (after the USA won its group) coming into the quarter-finals.’
    • ‘Not only was he the top seed and defending champion, he was a cut above the rest in his age-group.’
    • ‘Some argue it would take away the huge advantage the top four seeds have from byes and home-field advantage.’
    • ‘At the very least, the first round exposed weaknesses among the top seeds.’
    • ‘One thing we know is that the top seeds need to start playing like top seeds.’
    • ‘All the Wildcats are asking him to do is assume a starting backcourt role on a team that was a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and lost its starting guards.’
    • ‘The two, as the top seeds, dealt out a straight set defeat to the unseeded Bulgarian pair of Enev and Kanev in the final.’
    • ‘There was no such trouble for two other men's seeds in early second round action on another perfect morning at the National Tennis Centre.’
    • ‘The 14th seed scored his best victory since a defeat of then-world number one Pete Sampras in a final four years ago.’
    • ‘This became the 21st straight tournament without a 16th seed winning a game.’
    • ‘During the first round, the top eight women's seeds all won, and only one of them was pushed to a third and decisive set.’
    • ‘The former European singles champion will be top seed at this new tournament, promoted by Cheshire player Mike Johns in his new capacity as table tennis promoter.’
    • ‘There is no debating Illinois' position as a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.’
  • 4A small crystal introduced into a liquid to act as a nucleus for crystallization.

    • ‘Spherulites are ideally spherical mineral growths formed by initial crystallization of a seed crystal, or crystallite, within a melt or a solution that grows outward in all directions.’
    • ‘Here we have used the atomic force microscope to directly observe changes in the atomic lattice on a calcite seed crystal after the introduction of abalone shell proteins.’
    • ‘Several examples of simple crystals were observed, although the tendency to form intergrowths and parallel features shows up almost immediately as the seed crystals reach 0.5 mm.’
  • 5A small container for radioactive material placed in body tissue during radiotherapy.

    • ‘Slow-release radiotherapy seeds are implanted in the tissue of the prostate.’


  • 1[with object] Sow (land) with seeds.

    ‘the shoreline is seeded with a special grass’
    • ‘Thirdly, bloom is delayed, compared to when it would have begun if you had seeded when you first cleared the ground.’
    • ‘Every hill in sight, every plain, was seeded and overflowing with lush green crops and the workers busied themselves with their daily chores and share of the work.’
    • ‘It is also good weather for land being ploughed and seeded.’
    • ‘The plots' nine species are based on surveys of what northeastern dairy farmers use to seed their grazing lands.’
    • ‘In early spring, after winter-dormant fields have been tilled and seeded, farmers walk over their fields and look for signs of life.’
    • ‘At the USDA's urging, and at a subsidised price, much of the abandoned land was seeded with crested wheat grass and it continued to be the plant of choice under the federal Conservation Reserve Program for many years.’
    • ‘Soil can be seeded within monoculture grass, or trees can be planted widely apart so that they do not become roosts for mynas and starlings.’
    • ‘The front and rear gardens will have top soil and will be seeded; a cobblelock driveway offers off-street parking.’
    1. 1.1Sow (seed)
      ‘after seeding forage into the duff, they now have grassland mixed with mature forest’
      • ‘Basil is seeded in the greenhouse in early to mid-March and grown in two-inch soil blocks.’
      • ‘Fluid seeding is a new technique being used to seed forage legumes.’
      • ‘Because it is less winter hardy than other grasses, perennial ryegrass is best seeded in combination with other grasses and legumes.’
      • ‘Three legumes were seeded in late February 1995 with a no-till drill.’
      • ‘Wheat was seeded between the corn rows in late September after the seed corn was harvested.’
      • ‘A plant that is seeded at the right depth in the right soil mix with the correct amounts of sunlight, air and water will resist insects and diseases.’
      • ‘Most recommend that once you get close to or just past the suggested seeding date, the crop should be seeded as soon as possible.’
      • ‘Snow peas love cool weather and can be seeded into the ground at the last frost date.’
      • ‘Watercress may be seeded directly in very moist soil 1/4 " deep.’
      • ‘When used as a winter cover crop or a green manure crop, it should be seeded in early September.’
      • ‘While oats can be seeded anywhere from zero to three inches deep, be careful with the turnip seed.’
      • ‘Broccoli and cauliflower directly seeded in the garden have had their baby leaves completely eaten.’
    2. 1.2Cause (something) to begin to develop or grow.
      ‘his interest in public service was seeded when he was a child’
      • ‘Often issues like this are seeded in something else, like alcohol or stress.’
      • ‘His impetus was seeded by an art teacher who believed art history began in 1960 with Vito Acconci, a New York-based experimental artist.’
      • ‘He still thinks about that, but his new experiences have seeded another idea: he thinks being a flight attendant would be great as he loves meeting people and travelling.’
    3. 1.3Place a crystal or crystalline substance in (something) in order to cause crystallization or condensation (especially in a cloud to produce rain)
      ‘potential hail clouds are observed by radar, then seeded by lead iodide fired into the cloud's centre’
      • ‘This has mainly been done by seeding the clouds with silver iodide, which greatly reduces the size of the hail.’
      • ‘Each time the storm was seeded, sustained winds were reduced significantly.’
      • ‘Each hurricane was seeded once a day for two days, for a total of eight attempts.’
      • ‘During the night it had started to rain because the county had seeded the clouds.’
      • ‘Aeroplanes fly into the ‘right’ clouds and seed them to induce the supercooled water droplets to freeze and become tiny ice crystals which then fall as rain.’
      • ‘In this mission, the Boeing was used to seed clouds in order to create rain.’
      • ‘Naval pilots have been sent to seed the clouds in an effort to bring rain to ease the drought in parched provinces of northeast Thailand.’
      • ‘Weather Bureau researchers believed seeding a hurricane's eye wall could reduce the storm's intensity.’
  • 2[no object] (of a plant) produce or drop seeds.

    ‘mulches encourage many plants to seed freely’
    • ‘They seed around a good deal, so new plants are always coming on to replace those that fade out.’
    1. 2.1(of a plant) reproduce itself by means of its own seeds.
      ‘feverfew will seed itself readily’
      • ‘My favourite night-bloomer is the evening primrose which seeds itself all over the garden, appearing as if by magic in dull corners which it brings to light with clumps of glorious bloom often as much as six feet high.’
      • ‘It grows and seeds itself rapidly under the right conditions.’
      • ‘If your area has been an old field that has grown and seeded itself for years, expect plenty of weed seeds in the soil.’
      • ‘Briza maxima has also seeded itself in this pot, adding height and movement as well as a contrasting colour as it fades from fresh green to pale brown.’
      • ‘In addition, this obliging plant seeds itself freely, so the number of clumps will gradually increase over the years.’
  • 3[with object] Remove the seeds from (vegetables or fruit)

    ‘stem and seed the chillies’
    • ‘Peel the garlic and chop it finely, then seed and chop the chillies.’
  • 4[with object] Give (a competitor) the status of seed in a tournament.

    [with object and complement] ‘he was seeded second for the competition’
    • ‘Russia's Marat Safin was seeded second, while Andre Agassi was seeded No 3, one spot above his ranking.’
    • ‘The three athletes have all been seeded in their various heats.’
    • ‘On a positive side for other teams, if they know where they're going to be seeded in the play-offs, they can rest some players and have a fresh first round.’
    • ‘He is seeded No 1 for this tournament and his action starts on Friday when he takes on the winner of the preliminary round between Bannister and Pearson at 12.45 pm.’
    • ‘He matched Chile's Marcelo Rios and Argentina's Guillermo Vilas as the only South Americans to be seeded so high here.’
    • ‘Simutowe is seeded ahead of two international masters Watu Kobese of South Africa and Canadian Mark Schleifer.’
    • ‘The 25-year-old Bryan brothers won the 2003 French Open title in their 21st major together and were seeded No.1.’
    • ‘For their part, the Czechs may not be the best people to ask about the advantages of being seeded for a major tournament.’
    • ‘Seven times in the past eight years, Duke has been seeded No.1 in the NCAA Tournament.’
    • ‘The world number two has played in four successive finals at Sportcity - winning two - and is seeded to meet rival Peter Nicol in the decider again this year.’
    • ‘The Extreme Rush contestants will be seeded in a tournament-style bracket and compete for $17,000 in bonuses.’
    • ‘The Islanders are seeded 86th in the tournament and drew with Zimbabwe in the previous round.’
    • ‘Ranked No.1 in 2003, Clijsters is seeded just 14th after missing much of last year with a wrist injury.’
    • ‘Among the women, Lindsay Davenport was seeded No.1, followed by defending champion Maria Sharapova, Amelie Mauresmo and former two-time champion Serena Williams.’


  • go (or run) to seed

    • 1(of a plant) cease flowering as the seeds develop.

      ‘the latest varieties to be introduced are inclined to bolt and run to seed’
      • ‘He doesn't particularly choose his varieties for hardiness either, but rather grows a number of brands, including those from his own garden plants gone to seed.’
      • ‘Roots are harvested in the fall when the tops have gone to seed and the plants have experienced a couple of hard frosts.’
      • ‘This is something I have a hard time doing, but I am going to try to at least cut back the flowers before the pale-stemmed plants go to seed this year!’
      • ‘It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.’
      • ‘Make sure to remove any flower heads, as this will stop any leaves from forming and the plant will go to seed.’
      • ‘The plants were going to seed and had attracted a small convention of sparrows: savannah, song, swamp, white-throated, and chipping sparrows.’
      • ‘Be sure to harvest before the plant gets woody and goes to seed, which happens quickly in nice weather.’
      • ‘When the plant's about to go to seed, the leaves become lacy and thread-like and they're just too strong to eat.’
      • ‘In contrast the flowers of European chives, which are purple, are never used, and the buds are picked off to stop the plant from going to seed.’
      • ‘In the fall, the milkweed plants have already gone to seed but the dried pods will still be attached to the plant.’
      1. 1.1Deteriorate, especially through neglect.
        ‘Mark knows he has allowed himself to go to seed’
        deteriorate, degenerate, decline, decay, fall into decay, run to seed, go to rack and ruin, become dilapidated, go downhill, break down, waste away, wither away, languish, moulder, rot
        go to pot, go to the dogs, go down the toilet
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Old English sǣd, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zaad, German Saat, also to the verb sow.