Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

incubate - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb [intransitive/transitive]     incubate pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleincubating
past tenseincubated
past participleincubated
  1. 1
    biology if a bird incubates its eggs, or if they incubate, it keeps them warm until the young birds inside come out
    1. a.
      if you incubate cells or microorganisms, or if they incubate, they are kept at a particular temperature so that they will grow
  2. 2
    medical if you incubate a disease, or if it incubates, it develops inside your body until it becomes noticeable
  3. 3
    if you incubate an idea or a plan, or if it incubates, it develops gradually

derived word


     incubation pronunciation in British English
/ˌɪŋkjʊˈbeɪʃ(ə)n/ noun [uncountable]
quiz invitation


a description of an economic or political situation based on analysis of information at the present time

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


an unregulated form of capitalism that features financial deregulation, privatisation and low tax for high earners

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play