Definition of seed in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /sēd/


1A flowering plant’s unit of reproduction, capable of developing into another such plant.
Example sentences
  • The proportion of flowers and ovules that develop into fruits and seeds in flowering plants rarely reaches 1.
  • In maize, as in all flowering plants, the seed develops inside a coat of maternal origin.
  • We collected fruits and counted the total number of flowers, fruits, and fully developed undamaged seeds from each plant.
pip, stone, kernel;
1.1A quantity of these: grass seed you can grow artichokes from seed
More example sentences
  • Dovuro organises production of commercial quantities of seed, and markets seeds to distributors.
  • Mike and Polly travel extensively, especially to the USA, bringing back small quantities of seed from which they grow stock plants.
  • In more trials with indigenous plants, his immediate challenge was to amass sufficient quantities of seed so that large areas might be replanted.
1.2The cause or latent beginning of a feeling, process, or condition: the conversation sowed a tiny seed of doubt in his mind
More example sentences
  • More bad publicity in the media has suggested that all may not be well with new homes, sowing seeds of doubts in the minds of potential buyers.
  • Sadly, while Franklin sows seeds of reasonable doubt in the early going, before long the answers are agonizingly clear.
  • If we had scored it could possibly have sowed some seeds of doubt in their minds and raised our confidence levels.
genesis, source, origin, root, starting point, germ, beginnings, potential (for);
cause, reason, motivation, motive, grounds
1.3 archaic (Chiefly in biblical use) a person’s offspring or descendants.
Example sentences
  • The key is that the promise was made to Abraham and to his seed, that is, to one seed, to one offspring.
descendants, heirs, successors, scions;
offspring, children, sons and daughters, progeny, family;
Law  issue
derogatory spawn
archaic fruit of someone's loins
1.4A man’s semen.
Example sentences
  • In a similar way, human males feel a biological need to release their seed at frequent intervals.
  • He only has two functional modes: he's either quoting the encyclopedia or looking to release his seed.
1.5 (also seed crystal) A small crystal introduced into a liquid to act as a nucleus for crystallization.
Example sentences
  • Spherulites are ideally spherical mineral growths formed by initial crystallization of a seed crystal, or crystallite, within a melt or a solution that grows outward in all directions.
  • Here we have used the atomic force microscope to directly observe changes in the atomic lattice on a calcite seed crystal after the introduction of abalone shell proteins.
  • Several examples of simple crystals were observed, although the tendency to form intergrowths and parallel features shows up almost immediately as the seed crystals reach 0.5 mm.
1.6A small container for radioactive material placed in body tissue during radiotherapy.
Example sentences
  • Slow-release radiotherapy seeds are implanted in the tissue of the prostate.
2Any of a number of stronger competitors in a sports tournament who have been assigned a specified position in an ordered list with the aim of ensuring that they do not play each other in the early rounds: he knocked the top seed out of the championships
More example sentences
  • There is no debating Illinois' position as a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  • ‘We will look at the top seeds at this tournament for the India trip because it is the only way we can send the right body builders,’ he said.
  • Pakistan have been placed in Pool A of the Olympic tournament with top seeds Germany, Spain, Korea, Great Britain and Egypt.


1 [with object] Sow (land) with seeds: the shoreline is seeded with a special grass
More example sentences
  • The plots' nine species are based on surveys of what northeastern dairy farmers use to seed their grazing lands.
  • At the USDA's urging, and at a subsidised price, much of the abandoned land was seeded with crested wheat grass and it continued to be the plant of choice under the federal Conservation Reserve Program for many years.
  • It is also good weather for land being ploughed and seeded.
1.1Sow (a particular kind of seed) on or in the ground.
Example sentences
  • Snow peas love cool weather and can be seeded into the ground at the last frost date.
  • Broccoli and cauliflower directly seeded in the garden have had their baby leaves completely eaten.
  • Three legumes were seeded in late February 1995 with a no-till drill.
1.2Cause (something) to begin to develop or grow: severance payouts that help seed their new businesses
More example sentences
  • His impetus was seeded by an art teacher who believed art history began in 1960 with Vito Acconci, a New York-based experimental artist.
  • He still thinks about that, but his new experiences have seeded another idea: he thinks being a flight attendant would be great as he loves meeting people and travelling.
  • Often issues like this are seeded in something else, like alcohol or stress.
1.3Place a crystal or crystalline substance in (something) in order to cause crystallization or condensation (especially in a cloud to produce rain).
Example sentences
  • This has mainly been done by seeding the clouds with silver iodide, which greatly reduces the size of the hail.
  • Aeroplanes fly into the ‘right’ clouds and seed them to induce the supercooled water droplets to freeze and become tiny ice crystals which then fall as rain.
  • Weather Bureau researchers believed seeding a hurricane's eye wall could reduce the storm's intensity.
2 [no object] (Of a plant) produce or drop seeds: mulches encourage many plants to seed freely
More example sentences
  • They seed around a good deal, so new plants are always coming on to replace those that fade out.
2.1 (seed itself) (Of a plant) reproduce itself by means of its own seeds: feverfew will seed itself readily
More example sentences
  • In addition, this obliging plant seeds itself freely, so the number of clumps will gradually increase over the years.
  • If your area has been an old field that has grown and seeded itself for years, expect plenty of weed seeds in the soil.
  • My favourite night-bloomer is the evening primrose which seeds itself all over the garden, appearing as if by magic in dull corners which it brings to light with clumps of glorious bloom often as much as six feet high.
3 [with object] Remove the seeds from (vegetables or fruit): stem and seed the chilies
More example sentences
  • Peel the garlic and chop it finely, then seed and chop the chillies.
4 [with object] Give (a competitor) the status of seed in a tournament: [with complement]: Jeff Tarango, seeded five, was defeated by fellow American Todd Witsken
More example sentences
  • The Islanders are seeded 86th in the tournament and drew with Zimbabwe in the previous round.
  • For their part, the Czechs may not be the best people to ask about the advantages of being seeded for a major tournament.
  • On a positive side for other teams, if they know where they're going to be seeded in the play-offs, they can rest some players and have a fresh first round.


go (or run) to seed

(Of a plant) cease flowering as the seeds develop.
Example sentences
  • When the plant's about to go to seed, the leaves become lacy and thread-like and they're just too strong to eat.
  • In the fall, the milkweed plants have already gone to seed but the dried pods will still be attached to the plant.
  • Make sure to remove any flower heads, as this will stop any leaves from forming and the plant will go to seed.
1.1Deteriorate in condition, strength, or efficiency: Mark knows he has allowed himself to go to seed


Old English sǣd, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zaad, German Saat, also to the verb sow1.

  • sow from Old English:

    Sow, in the sense to plant is Old English and had the sense ‘disseminate’ from early on. The image of disseminate (Late Middle English) is the same, for it comes from Latin semen (Late Middle English) meaning ‘seed’. Seed (Old English) in turn comes from the same Germanic root as sow. The differently pronounced sow that is the female pig is also Old English, and goes back to an Indo-European root shared by Latis sus and Greek hus which suggests they were on the menu for our early ancestors.

Words that rhyme with seed

accede, bead, Bede, bleed, breed, cede, concede, creed, deed, Eid, exceed, feed, Gide, God speed, greed, he'd, heed, impede, interbreed, intercede, Jamshid, knead, lead, mead, Mede, meed, misdeed, mislead, misread, need, plead, proceed, read, rede, reed, Reid, retrocede, screed, secede, she'd, speed, stampede, steed, succeed, supersede, Swede, tweed, weak-kneed, we'd, weed

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: seed

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.