One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A member of a large group of unicellular microorganisms which have cell walls but lack organelles and an organized nucleus, including some which can cause disease.
illness, ailment, infection, disease, disorder, sickness, affliction, malady, complaint, upset, condition, infirmity, indisposition, malaiseView synonyms
- ‘Various germs such as fungi and bacteria live harmlessly on the skin and inside the body.’
- ‘Typhoid fever is a serious infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi.’
- ‘In Peru, ballast water has been blamed for the introduction of a bacterium that causes cholera.’
- ‘It could only be detected by its ability to kill bacteria on a petri dish.’
- ‘The disease is a form of pneumonia caused by bacteria which live in water droplets.’
- ‘Almost any germ, whether a bacterium or a virus, may be responsible.’
- ‘Its main study area is infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites.’
- ‘Antibiotics cannot treat roseola because it is caused by a virus, not a bacterium.’
- ‘Most chest infections are usually caused by germs such as bacteria or viruses.’
- ‘The bugs are only a few thousandths of a millimetre across and lack the cell walls which most bacteria have.’
- ‘The pneumococcal bacterium is the second most common cause of bacterial meningitis.’
- ‘After the patient takes the antibiotic, it is absorbed through the cell wall of the bacterium.’
- ‘The free radicals have the additional benefit of killing bacteria, viruses and spores.’
- ‘A gene from a human pathogen is inserted into a bacterium that infects plants.’
- ‘The toxin produced by the diphtheria bacteria may also damage the heart and the nervous system.’
- ‘He added that because the virus was not a bacterium, it could not be brought under control by the use of antibiotics.’
- ‘The cholera bacterium may also live in the environment in brackish rivers and coastal waters.’
- ‘The membrane lipids of thermophilic bacteria are rich in saturated fatty acids.’
- ‘A urine test can also be used to confirm that the bacteria are the Legionella bacteria.’
- ‘It is an acute, life-threatening febrile illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi.’
Bacteria is the plural form (derived from Latin) of bacterium. Like any other plural it should be used with the plural form of the verb: the bacteria causing salmonella are killed by thorough cooking, not the bacteria causing salmonella is killed by thorough cooking. However, the unfamiliarity of the form means that bacteria is sometimes mistakenly treated as a singular form, as in the example above
Mid 19th century: modern Latin, from Greek baktērion, diminutive of baktēria ‘staff, cane’ (because the first ones to be discovered were rod-shaped). Compare with bacillus.
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