germ (n.) Look up germ at
mid-15c., "bud, sprout;" 1640s, "rudiment of a new organism in an existing one," from Middle French germe "germ (of egg); bud, seed, fruit; offering," from Latin germen (genitive germinis) "spring, offshoot; sprout, bud," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE root *gen-, *gene- "to beget, bear" (see german (adj.)). The older sense is preserved in wheat germ and germ of an idea; sense of "seed of a disease" first recorded 1796 in English; that of "harmful micro-organism" dates from 1871. Germ warfare recorded from 1920.