Word of the Day

inoculate

audio pronunciation
November 27, 2009
verb
\ih-NAHK-yuh-layt\
Definition
1
a : to introduce a microorganism into b : to introduce (as a microorganism) into a suitable situation for growth c : to introduce immunologically active material (as an antibody or antigen) into especially in order to treat or prevent a disease
2
: to introduce something into the mind of
3
: to protect as if by inoculation
Examples
In 1796, the English physician Edward Jenner discovered that inoculating people with cowpox could provide immunity against smallpox.
Subscribe
Get the Word of the Day direct to your inbox — subscribe today!
Did You Know?
If you think you see a connection between "inoculate" and "ocular" ("of or relating to the eye"), you are not mistaken -- both words look back to "oculus," the Latin word for "eye." But what does the eye have to do with inoculation? Our answer lies in the original use in English of "inoculate" in Middle English: "to insert a bud in a plant." Latin "oculus" was sometimes applied to things that were seen to resemble eyes, and one such thing was the bud of a plant. "Inoculate" was later applied to other forms of engrafting or implanting, including the introduction of vaccines as a preventative against disease.
More Words of the Day
Visit our archives to see previous selections.
Podcast
Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
March 27, 2015
quiescent Hear it
Tranquilly at rest or causing no trouble
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears