General English


  • noun an organism that develops from a fertilised egg or seed, e.g. an animal in the first weeks of gestation or a seedling plant with cotyledons and a root


  • noun an unborn baby during the first eight weeks after conception
  • noun a plant in its earliest stages of development

Origin & History of “embryo”

The idea underlying embryo is of ‘growing within’. The word comes from Greek émbruon, a compound verb formed from the prefix en- ‘in’ and the verb brúein ‘swell, grow’, which meant literally ‘something that grows inside the body’. English acquired it via late Latin embryo.