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incubation

In science, incubation is a process of development. An incubation period is when a disease takes hold and produces symptoms — and it's also the phase of an egg getting ready to hatch.

The egg meaning of incubation is the original one — the word is derived from the Latin incubare, "to hatch." When a hen sits on her eggs, warming them beneath her so they will be able hatch, that's incubation. And when an infection is in the process of "hatching" into an active illness, complete with symptoms, it's also incubation, often described as an incubation period.

Definitions of incubation
  1. noun
    (pathology) the phase in the development of an infection between the time a pathogen enters the body and the time the first symptoms appear
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    type of:
    phase, stage
    any distinct time period in a sequence of events
  2. noun
    maintaining something at the most favorable temperature for its development
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    type of:
    aid, attention, care, tending
    the work of providing treatment for or attending to someone or something
  3. noun
    sitting on eggs so as to hatch them by the warmth of the body
    synonyms: brooding
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    type of:
    birth, birthing, giving birth, parturition
    the process of giving birth
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