Definition of germ in US English:

germ

noun

  • 1A microorganism, especially one which causes disease.

    • ‘Over 40 different strains of the Legionella germ have now been discovered.’
    • ‘Clean bathroom surfaces also help prevent the spread of infectious germs.’
    • ‘The pit may act as the breeding ground of disease-causing germs and mosquitoes.’
    • ‘Whatever he put on it to kill the germs made me hiss with discomfort.’
    • ‘If the TB germs become active, TB disease can develop.’
    • ‘The hands that treat patients and the instruments used to save lives could be spreading deadly germs.’
    • ‘With a little prevention, you can keep harmful germs out of your child's way!’
    • ‘I can't help feeling it harbours all kinds of nasty germs.’
    • ‘After TB germs enter the body, in most cases, the body's defences control the germs.’
    • ‘Resistant germs aren't killed by the usual antibiotics.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Deadly germs infect nearly 2 million of the nation's hospital patients and kill close to 100,000 every year.’
    • ‘They discovered acupuncture before it was known that blood circulates, or that germs cause disease.’
    • ‘Like many germs, the bacteria that cause botulism in infants are everywhere in the environment.’
    • ‘Some disease-causing germs travel through the air in particles considerably smaller than droplets.’
    • ‘Most chest infections are usually caused by germs such as bacteria or viruses.’
    • ‘If your child gets infected again, it's more likely to be with these resistant germs.’
    • ‘Food and water also can carry infectious germs, so be sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.’
    • ‘These bodies are obviously organized, resembling in all points the germs of the lowest organisms, and diverse in size and structure.’
    • ‘A mesenchymal signal triggers an ectodermal cell to proliferate and the cells grow downward to form a hair germ.’
    1. 2.1 The embryo in a cereal grain or other plant seed.
      Compare with wheat germ
      • ‘The manufacturing process frees the germ from the soybean, using 400 pounds of soybean seed to yield one pound of soy germ.’
      • ‘It contains all parts of the grain - the bran, the outer husk and the germ.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Then the corn is coarsely ground to break the germ loose from other kernel components.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This process destroys the germ and prevents the kernel from sprouting.’
      • ‘All grains have a bark-like, protective hull beneath which are the endosperm, germ, and bran.’
      • ‘It has three main parts: the germ, the endosperm and the bran.’
      • ‘Parching destroys the germ so the seed will not sprout, hardens the kernel, and loosens the tight hull so it can be removed.’
      • ‘Refined white flour is what's left after the nutrient-packed germ and bran are milled out of the wheat kernel.’
      • ‘It has an outer casing, a starchy inner and a tiny germ or embryo.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘Originally, most ethanol was made through wet-milling, which means the starch is separated from the corn germ and fiber and liquefied by cooking.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After the husk is removed, the rice is milled to remove the bran and the germ or embryo.’
      • ‘It removes the bran and most of the germ, stripping the grain of its fiber and nutrients.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Families often inherit a negative thinking style that carries the germ of depression.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With the germ of an idea in mind, he boarded a plane to China in search of the products.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The question contains a germ of truth, but it misses some essential features of the analysis.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘"There's a germ of a really good idea, " he says.’
      • ‘And the story endures because it contained a germ of truth about politics.’
      • ‘Although accompanied some of the time by his posh, dull, white bread girlfriend, a germ of doubt grows in the mind of the audience.’
      • ‘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 germ of his falling-out with his beloved Wagner lay in his growing awareness of Wagner's personal ignobility and malevolence.’
      • ‘The germ of the idea slowly matured in Godfrey's mind.’
      • ‘The germs of these ideas, the roots of my own thought, are in Western philosophy and science rather than Oriental philosophy.’
      • ‘Here we see the germ of a practice which later on developed into the European feudal system.’
      • ‘It's not hard to see the germ of something useful in what on the surface appear to be self-defeating patterns of behavior.’
      • ‘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 divisiveness was planted many years ago way back in 1939, and unity of the movement has only come in fleetingly short spurts since then.’
      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/