Definition of germ in US English:

germ

noun

  • 1A microorganism, especially one which causes disease.

    • ‘However, this doesn't kill bacteria and could in fact spread the invisible germs around kitchen surfaces.’
    • ‘Therefore, agricultural, herding societies will carry deadlier germs than will hunter-gatherers or people that farm only plants.’
    • ‘Like many germs, the bacteria that cause botulism in infants are everywhere in the environment.’
    • ‘I can't help feeling it harbours all kinds of nasty germs.’
    • ‘Deadly germs infect nearly 2 million of the nation's hospital patients and kill close to 100,000 every year.’
    • ‘If the TB germs become active, TB disease can develop.’
    • ‘But since pasteurisation kills not only germs but also useful bacteria, a culture is added to the milk in order to reintroduce all essential bacteria.’
    • ‘They discovered acupuncture before it was known that blood circulates, or that germs cause disease.’
    • ‘Whatever he put on it to kill the germs made me hiss with discomfort.’
    • ‘With a little prevention, you can keep harmful germs out of your child's way!’
    • ‘Most chest infections are usually caused by germs such as bacteria or viruses.’
    • ‘The hands that treat patients and the instruments used to save lives could be spreading deadly germs.’
    • ‘Food and water also can carry infectious germs, so be sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.’
    • ‘Resistant germs aren't killed by the usual antibiotics.’
    • ‘If your child gets infected again, it's more likely to be with these resistant germs.’
    • ‘Clean bathroom surfaces also help prevent the spread of infectious germs.’
    • ‘Over 40 different strains of the Legionella germ have now been discovered.’
    • ‘The pit may act as the breeding ground of disease-causing germs and mosquitoes.’
    • ‘After TB germs enter the body, in most cases, the body's defences control the germs.’
    • ‘Some disease-causing germs travel through the air in particles considerably smaller than droplets.’
    microbe, microorganism, bacillus, bacterium, virus
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  • 2A portion of an organism capable of developing into a new one or part of one.

    Compare with germ cell
    • ‘Many multicellular organisms have a germ that is segregated early in the development.’
    • ‘A mesenchymal signal triggers an ectodermal cell to proliferate and the cells grow downward to form a hair germ.’
    • ‘These bodies are obviously organized, resembling in all points the germs of the lowest organisms, and diverse in size and structure.’
    1. 2.1 The embryo in a cereal grain or other plant seed.
      Compare with wheat germ
      • ‘Thiamine is found in whole-grain cereals, bread, red meat, egg yolks, green leafy vegetables, legumes, sweet corn, brown rice, berries, yeast, the germ and husks of grains and nuts.’
      • ‘Originally, most ethanol was made through wet-milling, which means the starch is separated from the corn germ and fiber and liquefied by cooking.’
      • ‘It removes the bran and most of the germ, stripping the grain of its fiber and nutrients.’
      • ‘Whole grain foods are made with all three parts of the grain kernel - the fibre-rich outer bran layer, the middle endosperm and the inner germ.’
      • ‘Refined white flour is what's left after the nutrient-packed germ and bran are milled out of the wheat kernel.’
      • ‘This process destroys the germ and prevents the kernel from sprouting.’
      • ‘At the tip there are sparse, fine hairs, and inside the base, where the seed is attached to the ear, is the embryo or germ, which will grow into a new plant if allowed to.’
      • ‘Then the corn is coarsely ground to break the germ loose from other kernel components.’
      • ‘All grains have a bark-like, protective hull beneath which are the endosperm, germ, and bran.’
      • ‘The hulls and germ float to the surface and the kernels swell, doubling or even tripling in size, creating a different form of corn known as ‘hominy.’’
      • ‘Then there is the seed germ which is 45-55% protein, used in confectionery and flour for the health food market, and also in specialised livestock diets.’
      • ‘It contains all parts of the grain - the bran, the outer husk and the germ.’
      • ‘After the husk is removed, the rice is milled to remove the bran and the germ or embryo.’
      • ‘In the case of corn germ, 10 out of the 16 quality attributes substantially affect yield, with oil content appearing to play the biggest role in this case.’
      • ‘It has three main parts: the germ, the endosperm and the bran.’
      • ‘Damage occurs when beetles feed on the seed and destroy the germ, resulting in an uneven stand.’
      • ‘Whole-grain breads are far superior to whites that have been denuded of bran, endosperm and germ.’
      • ‘Parching destroys the germ so the seed will not sprout, hardens the kernel, and loosens the tight hull so it can be removed.’
      • ‘It has an outer casing, a starchy inner and a tiny germ or embryo.’
      • ‘The manufacturing process frees the germ from the soybean, using 400 pounds of soybean seed to yield one pound of soy germ.’
      embryo, bud, nucleus, seed, spore, egg, ovum
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    2. 2.2 An initial stage from which something may develop.
      ‘the germ of a brilliant idea’
      • ‘"There's a germ of a really good idea, " he says.’
      • ‘The germ of his falling-out with his beloved Wagner lay in his growing awareness of Wagner's personal ignobility and malevolence.’
      • ‘The germ of divisiveness was planted many years ago way back in 1939, and unity of the movement has only come in fleetingly short spurts since then.’
      • ‘It's not hard to see the germ of something useful in what on the surface appear to be self-defeating patterns of behavior.’
      • ‘But the germ of truth in it is that you don't get any more misinformation in two ID papers than in one: it's the same old same old.’
      • ‘The question contains a germ of truth, but it misses some essential features of the analysis.’
      • ‘In his latest show, for example, he has developed the simple germ of an idea into a half-hour routine on his annoyance at having people to stay.’
      • ‘The germ of an idea sprouted in his mind: maybe, instead of highlighting the drama of the story, the film should highlight the absurdity of it.’
      • ‘Although accompanied some of the time by his posh, dull, white bread girlfriend, a germ of doubt grows in the mind of the audience.’
      • ‘Here we see the germ of a practice which later on developed into the European feudal system.’
      • ‘Often the result is something they can use in their story, or that contains the germ of an idea or phrase that can drive the reporting and writing of a story in an exciting new direction.’
      • ‘But it certainly appears to contain the germ of the principle of betterment, and it is clear that the principle is by no means a recent innovation.’
      • ‘With the germ of an idea in mind, he boarded a plane to China in search of the products.’
      • ‘The germs of these ideas, the roots of my own thought, are in Western philosophy and science rather than Oriental philosophy.’
      • ‘Families often inherit a negative thinking style that carries the germ of depression.’
      • ‘The germ of the idea slowly matured in Godfrey's mind.’
      • ‘The germ of democratic thought had insinuated itself.’
      • ‘The germ of this is clear in the 17th century itself.’
      • ‘Children in such families are quick to be inoculated with the germ of duplicity.’
      • ‘And the story endures because it contained a germ of truth about politics.’
      start, beginning, beginnings, commencement, starting point, genesis, inception, seed, embryo, bud, root, rudiment, origin, source, fountain, potential, potential for
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Origin

Late Middle English (in germ (sense 2)): via Old French from Latin germen ‘seed, sprout’. germ (sense 1) dates from the late 19th century.

Pronunciation

germ

/dʒərm//jərm/