from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. An environment conducive to vigorous growth or development, especially of something undesirable: a hotbed of intrigue.
- n. A glass-covered bed of soil heated with fermenting manure or by electricity, used for the germination of seeds or for protecting tender plants.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. a low bed of earth covered with glass, and heated with rotting manure; used for the germination of seeds and the growth of tender plants. A hotbed works as a miniature hothouse, i.e. greenhouse.
- n. an environment that is ideal for the growth or development of something, especially of something undesirable
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- adj. an iron platform in a rolling mill, on which hot bars, rails, etc., are laid to cool.
- n. A bed of earth heated by fermenting manure or other substances, and covered with glass, intended for raising early plants, or for nourishing exotics.
- n. A place which favors rapid growth or development.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In horticulture, a bed of earth heated by fermenting substances, and covered with glass to defend it from the cold air, intended for raising early plants, or for protecting tender exotics.
- n. Figuratively, a seat of rapid growth or development, or of eager activity of some kind: generally in a bad sense: as, a hotbed of sedition.
- n. In rail-making, the bed on which the redhot rail taken from the rolls is placed to cool.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a bed of earth covered with glass and heated by rotting manure to promote the growth of plants
- n. a situation that is ideal for rapid development (especially of something bad)
From hot + bed. (Wiktionary)