Meaning of Gram stain in English:

Gram stain

Pronunciation /ɡram/


mass nounMedicine
  • A staining technique for the preliminary identification of bacteria, in which a violet dye is applied, followed by a decolorizing agent and then a red dye. The cell walls of certain bacteria (denoted Gram-positive) retain the first dye and appear violet, while those that lose it (denoted Gram-negative) appear red.

    ‘The use of standard biochemical testing rather than commercial systems has been recommended for identification of Gram-negative nonfermenting bacteria.’
    • ‘Endotoxin, the highly inflammatory surface component of Gram-negative bacteria, has been previously implicated in the morbidity and mortality of a number of clinical settings, including patients undergoing cardiac surgery.’
    • ‘Moreover, single findings can occasionally be very powerful and definitive, just as the results of certain formal diagnostic tests (such as a spinal fluid Gram stain showing bacteria).’
    • ‘In conclusion, the findings indicated that both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria caused wound infections in orthopaedic patients.’


Late 19th century named after Hans C. J. Gram (1853–1938), the Danish physician who devised the method.