From a- (“not”, the alpha privative) + biogenesis (“principle that living organisms are produced only from other living organisms”), from Ancient Greek α- (a-, “the alpha privative, indicating the lack of something”) + βῐ́ος (bíos, “life”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *gʷeyh₃- (“to live”)) + γένεσις (génesis, “origin, source; manner of birth; creation”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ǵénh₁tis (“birth; production”)). The words biogenesis and abiogenesis were both coined by English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895) in 1870 (see the quotation).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌeɪbaɪəʊˈdʒɛnəsɪs/, /-ˌbaɪə-/, /-ˌbiːə-/, /-ˌbiːoʊ-/, /-nɪ-/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˌeɪˌbaioʊˈdʒɛnəsɪs/
- Hyphenation: abi‧o‧ge‧ne‧sis
abiogenesis (plural abiogeneses)
- (evolutionary theory) The origination of living organisms from lifeless matter; such genesis as does not involve the action of living parents; spontaneous generation. [from 1870]
1870 September 17, [Thomas Henry Huxley], “The President’s Address”, in The Athenæum: Journal of English and Foreign Literature, Science, the Fine Arts, Music and the Drama, number 2238, London: Printed by Edward J. Francis, Took's Court, Chancery Lane, published at the office, 20, Wellington Street, Strand, W.C., by John Francis. [...], OCLC 956082422, page 374, columns 2–3:
- And thus the hypothesis that living matter always arises by the agency of pre-existing living matter, took definite shape; […] It will be necessary for me to refer to this hypothesis so frequently, that, to save circumlocution, I shall call it the hypothesis of Biogenesis; and I shall term the contrary doctrine—that living matter may be produced by not living matter—the hypothesis of Abiogenesis.
- “abiogenesis” in Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors, The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-19-860457-0, page 4.