1. (of an organism or tissue) living in the absence of air or free oxygen.
  2. pertaining to or caused by the absence of oxygen.


  1. (of an organism or process) requiring the absence of or not dependent on the presence of oxygen
  2. of or relating to anaerobes

“capable of living without oxygen,” 1879 (as anaerobian; modern form first attested 1884), from French anaĆ©robie, coined 1863 by French bacteriologist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), from Greek an- “without” (see an- (1)) + aer “air” (see air (n.1)) + bios “life” (see bio-).


  1. Relating to or being an anaerobe.
  2. Living without oxygen.

  1. Occurring in the absence of oxygen or not requiring oxygen to live. Anaerobic bacteria produce energy from food molecules without the presence of oxygen. Compare aerobic.

A descriptive term for a process, such as fermentation, that can proceed only in the absence of oxygen, or a living thing that can survive only in the absence of oxygen. (Compare aerobic.)

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