antibiotic

noun
an·​ti·​bi·​ot·​ic | \ ˌan-tē-bī-ˈä-tik, -ˌtī- How to pronounce antibiotic (audio) ; -bē-ˈä- How to pronounce antibiotic (audio) \

Definition of antibiotic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a substance able to inhibit or kill microorganisms specifically : an antibacterial substance (such as penicillin, cephalosporin, and ciprofloxacin) that is used to treat or prevent infections by killing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria in or on the body, that is administered orally, topically, or by injection, and that is isolated from cultures of certain microorganisms (such as fungi) or is of semi-synthetic or synthetic origin Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include muscle aches, fever, cramps and diarrhea leading to gastrointestinal illness, which can be treated with antibiotics. Chicago Daily Herald Another way to produce new variants of established antibiotics is to use genetic engineering to alter the biochemical pathways of the microbes that produce them. New Scientist Experts agree that by spiking animal feed with antibiotics, conventional farmers are speeding the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. — Geoffrey Cowley

Note: While antibiotics are effective mainly against bacteria, they are sometimes used to treat protozoal infections. Some consider antibiotics to include only those derived fully or partly from microorganisms and exclude synthetic forms from this class of drugs.

antibiotic

adjective

Definition of antibiotic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : tending to prevent, inhibit, or destroy life
2 : of or relating to antibiotics or to antibiosis antibiotic drugs

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Other Words from antibiotic

Adjective

antibiotically \ ˌan-​tē-​bī-​ˈä-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē , ˌan-​ˌtī-​ How to pronounce antibiotically (audio) ; -​bē-​ˈä-​ \ adverb

Examples of antibiotic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Weeks of colds and shortness of breath have left him on antibiotics. Washington Post, "As Amazon burns, breathing problems spike," 28 Aug. 2019 In the earlier stages, antibiotics are used to treat the infection. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "Can You Get Flesh Eating Bacteria From a Pool?," 27 Aug. 2019 Macrolides are a class of antibiotics that includes azithromycin. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Deadly superbug outbreak in humans linked to antibiotic spike in cows," 23 Aug. 2019 Collins hopes that the gels could be used to make smart therapeutics that release, for example, cancer drugs in the presence of a tumour, or antibiotics around an infection. Ewen Callaway, Scientific American, "Gene Editing Transforms Gel into Shape-Shifting Smart Material," 23 Aug. 2019 After infected trees are removed, nearby palms need preventive antibiotic injections to halt the spread. Terry Spencer, chicagotribune.com, "A lethal disease spread by a tiny, tree-hopping insect is threatening Florida’s iconic palm trees," 19 Aug. 2019 After infected trees are removed, nearby palms need preventive antibiotic injections to halt the spread. Terry Spencer, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida’s iconic palm trees threatened by invasive disease," 19 Aug. 2019 After infected trees are removed, nearby palms need preventive antibiotic injections to halt the spread. Terry Spencer, sun-sentinel.com, "Florida’s iconic palms threatened by invasive disease," 19 Aug. 2019 Weeds have developed resistance to glyphosate, and some research connects glyphosate to a rise in antibiotic resistance in bacterial populations as well. Zoë Schlanger, Quartz, "Syngenta just funded a study on the best way to spray glyphosate," 16 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Other possible factors in celiac disease still need to be considered, such as early childhood infections, changes in gut bacteria, and antibiotic exposure, noted Dr. Jacqueline Jossen. Dennis Thompson, baltimoresun.com, "Lots of gluten during toddler years might raise odds for celiac disease," 11 Sep. 2019 Another potential nit: Researchers found antibiotic residues in fruit that were more than three times higher than are permissible, a potential hurdle for injecting antibiotics into citrus trees. Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, "Spraying Antibiotics to Fight Citrus Scourge Doesn’t Help, Study Finds," 16 Aug. 2019 Of those who live long enough to seek treatment—an arduous regimen requiring patients to undergo antibiotic injections and take up to 40 pills daily for as long as two years—just 34 percent are ultimately cured. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "F.D.A. Approves New Treatment for Deadliest Strain of Tuberculosis," 15 Aug. 2019 The company is quick to point out that its salmon are antibiotic free. Los Angeles Times, "Data rigging is latest Chile salmon farm scandal," 4 Aug. 2019 The patient encountered several complications during the treatments, including sepsis, pneumonia, and a urinary tract infection, requiring courses of potent antibiotic and anti-fungal medications. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Got a horrifying foreign superbug? You may have more than one," 1 Aug. 2019 Today, most people survive plague with rapid diagnosis and antibiotic treatment. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Plague, explained," 20 Aug. 2019 Diagnostic tests and antibiotic treatments are available, but national treatment programs have had little effect in fighting the global chlamydia epidemic, according to press release from The Lancet. Jack Guy, CNN, "A chlamydia vaccine has been successfully tested in an early trial," 13 Aug. 2019 Its symptoms include fever and chills that don’t respond to regular antibiotic treatment. Sanya Mansoor, Time, "Deadly Fungal Infection Emerged Because of Global Warming, Study Says," 24 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antibiotic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of antibiotic

Noun

1943, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1891, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for antibiotic

Noun

derivative of antibiotic entry 2

Note: Noun use of the adjective antibiotic probably began in the early 1940's, preceded by the frequent collocation antibiotic substance, but was not common before Selman Waksman's paper "What Is an Antibiotic or an Antibiotic Substance?" (Mycologia, vol. 39, no. 5 [September-October, 1947]). Waksman has been credited with coining antibiotic, though he does not claim to have done so, and in fact gives an account of the earlier history of the word in this article.

Adjective

borrowed from French antibiotique, derivative of antibiose antibiosis (after symbiose symbiosis : symbiotique symbiotic)

Note: See note at antibiosis.

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Statistics for antibiotic

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for antibiotic

The first known use of antibiotic was in 1891

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More Definitions for antibiotic

antibiotic

noun

English Language Learners Definition of antibiotic

medical : a drug that is used to kill harmful bacteria and to cure infections

antibiotic

noun
an·​ti·​bi·​ot·​ic | \ ˌan-ti-bī-ˈä-tik How to pronounce antibiotic (audio) \

Kids Definition of antibiotic

: a substance produced by living things and especially by bacteria and fungi that is used to kill or prevent the growth of harmful germs

antibiotic

adjective
an·​ti·​bi·​ot·​ic | \ -bī-ˈät-ik; -bē- How to pronounce antibiotic (audio) \

Medical Definition of antibiotic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : tending to prevent, inhibit, or destroy life
2 : of or relating to antibiotics or to antibiosis

Other Words from antibiotic

antibiotically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce antibiotically (audio) \ adverb

antibiotic

noun

Medical Definition of antibiotic (Entry 2 of 2)

: a substance able to inhibit or kill microorganisms specifically an antibacterial substance (as penicillin, cephalosporin, and ciprofloxacin) that is used to treat or prevent infections by killing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria in or on the body, that is administered orally, topically, or by injection, and that is isolated from cultures of certain microorganisms (as fungi) or is of semi-synthetic or synthetic origin

Note: While antibiotics are effective mainly against bacteria, they are sometimes used to treat protozoal infections. Some consider antibiotics to include only those derived fully or partly from microorganisms and exclude synthetic forms from this class of drugs.

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Comments on antibiotic

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