Definition of embryo in English:



  • 1An unborn or unhatched offspring in the process of development, in particular a human offspring during the period from approximately the second to the eighth week after fertilization (after which it is usually termed a fetus).

    • ‘The eggs have to be turned to help the chick embryo develop into a healthy chick during the incubation period.’
    • ‘It is crucial for the normal development of the nervous system and the growth of blood vessels in human and other animal embryos.’
    • ‘A doctor caused worldwide shock and condemnation yesterday after claiming he had implanted a cloned human embryo in a woman.’
    • ‘Earlier this year he reportedly implanted a cloned human embryo in a woman's womb.’
    • ‘The most common mutant phenotype was an embryo with a polar body near one end and the development of one or two spindles in the middle.’
    • ‘Out of 180 embryos processed, 109 had at least one analyzable metaphase.’
    • ‘However he says he and Antinori could implant a cloned human embryo later this year.’
    • ‘Normally occurring embryonic cell death is not present in wild-type blastoderm stage embryos.’
    • ‘The Japanese team believed that they could use two eggs to create a viable mouse embryo.’
    • ‘At this phase of development, the embryo is called the blastocyst.’
    • ‘Implantation of the embryo in the womb may underlie many such cases.’
    • ‘The term referred to the embryo before its implantation in the womb.’
    • ‘As starting material they used normal zygotic embryos from which callus cultures were established.’
    • ‘The viruses rapidly kill off the chick embryos normally used in the vaccine production process.’
    • ‘No one has yet converted a single blastomere from an eight-cell embryo into a stem cell line.’
    • ‘Meiotic spindles form after fertilization of the worm embryo in the same cytoplasm that later supports embryonic mitosis.’
    • ‘In the context of embryos in the womb, this is manifestly untrue.’
    • ‘Consistent with these findings, Sxl-Pe is not activated in germ cells of blastoderm embryos.’
    • ‘The pathology of internal organs and skeleton in embryos was recorded.’
    • ‘Double fertilization of egg cell and central cell initiates development of the diploid embryo and the triploid endosperm, respectively.’
    fetus, fertilized egg, unborn baby, unborn child
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    1. 1.1Botany The part of a seed which develops into a plant, consisting (in the mature embryo of a higher plant) of a plumule, a radicle, and one or two cotyledons.
      • ‘The embryo matures and the seed accumulates storage products, acquires desiccation tolerance, and loses water.’
      • ‘During the autocatalytic cycle of growth and reproduction of higher plants, the embryo in the seed grows, under suitable conditions, to form a plant with leaves and roots.’
      • ‘Another type of apomictic development has been reported to occur in the gymnosperm Cupressus dupreziana, where embryos develop from unreduced pollen grains.’
      • ‘Callus was formed on cotyledons, hypocotyls, and radicles of embryos.’
      • ‘The carbohydrate treatments during the maturation period also affected the ability of the embryos to develop into plants.’
  • 2A thing at a rudimentary stage that shows potential for development.

    ‘a simple commodity economy is merely the embryo of a capitalist economy’
    • ‘The design is still at its embryo stage, as it should be for an idea competition.’
    • ‘He goes as long-awaited plans to create a new hub for Swindon are still at the embryo stage.’
    rudimentary version, germ, nucleus, seed, root, source
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  • in embryo

    • At a rudimentary stage with the potential for further development.

      • ‘The government has fiercely denied opposition claims that it has created an army in embryo, without parliament's consent.’
      • ‘The modernised look of this town in embryo is increased by a hotel which shames many establishments of the sort found in large commercial towns.’
      • ‘Think of it as a nice time capsule of Canadian legends in embryo, but ultimately inconsequential.’
      • ‘Such possibilities are still in embryo in Australia.’
      • ‘You can recognise the man in embryo, marked by strong subservience to those above and superciliousness to those below him.’
      • ‘To Tocqueville, this was popular sovereignty in embryo.’
      • ‘Of course what we're seeing here is a liberal myth in embryo - that the Turks rather than Drake and Effingham beat the Armada.’
      • ‘Mackenzie has a sure, visual touch and a mastery of cinematic language, at least in embryo.’
      • ‘It must be the first recorded sound of the authentic Connolly voice, his talent in embryo.’
      • ‘We may think we've missed it, but as Smith talks us through her ideas, which are presented with great fluency and wit, her thesis takes shape and, in embryo at least, is persuasive.’


Late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek embruon ‘fetus’, from em- ‘into’ + bruein ‘swell, grow’.