Definition of panspermia in US English:



  • The theory that life on the earth originated from microorganisms or chemical precursors of life present in outer space and able to initiate life on reaching a suitable environment.

    • ‘Francis Crick was one of the early proponents for the panspermia hypothesis, that is, that life actually originated somewhere else and came to earth.’
    • ‘Francis Crick, codiscoverer of the structure of DNA, proposes direct panspermia: dispersal of single-celled organisms throughout the Galaxy.’
    • ‘Comets play a crucial role in our theory of panspermia because it's comets that are responsible for replicating, for multiplying cosmic bacteria in their interiors and for transferring these bacteria cells from one location to another.’
    • ‘A theory known as panspermia suggests that organic precursors to life arrived to Earth with meteors.’
    • ‘The concept of interstellar panspermia has been a philosophical luxury; it may soon become a necessity if constraints of evolutionary theory continue to conspire against an origin of life in our solar system.’


Mid 19th century: from Greek, from panspermos ‘containing all kinds of seed’.