Definition of germ noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//dʒɜːm//
    ; NAmE NAmE//dʒɜːrm//
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  1. 1[countable, usually plural] a very small living thing that can cause infection and disease Disinfectant kills germs. Dirty hands can be a breeding ground for germs.
  2. 2[singular] germ of something an early stage of the development of something Here was the germ of a brilliant idea. The germ of the town was a single house near the river.
  3. 3[countable] (biology) the part of a plant or an animal that can develop into a new one see also wheatgerm
  4. Word Originlate Middle English (in sense (3)): via Old French from Latin germen ‘seed, sprout’. Sense (1) dates from the late 19th cent.Extra examples Cracks and scratches in work surfaces can harbour germs. The epidemic was caused by a deadly germ. The epidemic was caused by a particularly virulent flu germ. They used bleach to kill any germs in the sink and drain. The germ is the embryo of the new plant.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: germ

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