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See also: Germ, germ., and Germ.



From Middle French germe, from Latin germen (bud, seed, embryo).



germ (plural germs)

  1. (biology) The small mass of cells from which a new organism develops; a seed, bud or spore.
  2. A pathogenic microorganism.
    • 1895, H. G. Wells, The Stolen Bacillus
      'This again,' said the Bacteriologist, slipping a glass slide under the microscope, 'is a preparation of the celebrated Bacillus of cholera - the cholera germ.'
  3. The embryo of a seed, especially of a seed used as a cereal or grain. See Wikipedia article on cereal germ.
  4. (figuratively) The origin of an idea or project.
    the germ of civil liberty
  5. (mathematics) An equivalence class that includes a specified function defined in an open neighborhood.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


germ (third-person singular simple present germs, present participle germing, simple past and past participle germed)

  1. To germinate.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      O for a withering curse to blast the germing of their wicked machinations.
    • Thomas Hardy
      Thus tempted, the lust to avenge me / Germed inly and grew.
  2. (slang) To grow, as if parasitic.
    • "I’m addicted, want to germ inside your love" - Just Can't Get Enough by the Black Eyed Peas

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Further reading[edit]



Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰer-. Cognate with English warm.


germ (comparative germtir, superlative germtirîn)

  1. warm

Derived terms[edit]