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 Whole Foods Market is selling Mary's organic and free-range turkeys that are antibiotic-free. oregonlive, "Where to order Thanksgiving turkeys in the Portland area, and how much to buy," 7 Nov. 2019 Hydration, exercise habits, medication, antibiotics, stress, and auto-immune diseases can also impact your poop. Leah Groth, Health.com, "Researchers Are Asking for Pics of Your Poop—All in the Name of Science," 4 Nov. 2019 Four more restaurants are on their way to keeping their commitment to serve antibiotic-free chicken. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "America's biggest restaurant chains scored on their antibiotic use," 31 Oct. 2019 Citing a bill proposed last year to offer vouchers for new antibiotics, the researchers calculated the idea would have cost an extra $4.5 billion in spending on medicines over a 10-year period, had the legislation taken effect in 2007. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Giving vouchers to pharma to develop antibiotics could be a costly move," 31 Oct. 2019 The diseases in adults are generally treatable with antibiotics, if people know they are infected. Meredith Cohn, baltimoresun.com, "‘More must be done’: STD cases in Maryland mostly outpacing those nationally," 16 Oct. 2019 Have shrimp farming methods changed since past reports of slave labor practices (particularly in Thailand), disease outbreaks, the widespread use of antibiotics, liquid-waste pollution and the destruction of mangroves? Melissa Clark, New York Times, "What Are We Supposed to Think About Shrimp?," 15 Oct. 2019 Four babies have recovered from an infection caused by the Pseudomonas bacterium, and one is still being treated with antibiotics, the hospital said. BostonGlobe.com, "Hospital where 3 preemies died seeking source of bacteria - The Boston Globe," 8 Oct. 2019 Four babies have recovered from an infection caused by the Pseudomonas bacterium, and one is still being treated with antibiotics, the hospital said. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hospital where 3 preemies died seeking source of bacteria," 7 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In the meantime, the drug industry's antibiotic pipeline is running dry. Charles Schmidt, Scientific American, "Phage Therapy Could Beat Drug-Resistant Illnesses," 1 Nov. 2019 To curb the effects of environmental estrogens, eat a diet high in fiber, which prevents excess estrogen from being absorbed, and go for produce without pesticides and hormone-free and antibiotic-free meat and dairy when possible. Suzannah Weiss, Glamour, "5 Possible Reasons Your Period Lasts So Long," 27 Oct. 2019 Virtual care like this also might lead to antibiotic overprescribing, said Dr. Ateev Mehrotra. Tom Murphy, The Denver Post, "Doctors turn to thumbs for diagnosis and treatment by text," 13 Oct. 2019 All of the transplant recipients were primed for the donor fluids with an intravaginal antibiotic regimen. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Vaginal-fluid transplants treat incurable condition in pilot study," 9 Oct. 2019 Virtual care like this also might lead to antibiotic overprescribing, said Dr. Ateev Mehrotra. Washington Post, "Doctors turn to thumbs for diagnosis and treatment by text," 8 Oct. 2019 Virtual care like this also might lead to antibiotic overprescribing, said Dr. Ateev Mehrotra. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Doctors turn to thumbs for diagnosis and treatment by text," 8 Oct. 2019 Because antibiotics are routinely mixed into pig and cattle and poultry feed to protect and fatten the animals, animal ag promotes antibiotic resistance, which is projected to cause ten million deaths a year by 2050. Tad Friend, The New Yorker, "Can a Burger Help Solve Climate Change?," 23 Sep. 2019 The first aid kit should include items such as antihistamine (oral and creams), ace bandages, adhesive bandages of all sizes, antibiotic cream, anesthetic spray or lotion, exam gloves, tweezers, non-adhesive pads and adhesive tape. Cindy Krischer Goodman, sun-sentinel.com, "As Hurricane Dorian approaches Florida, insurers lift medication refill limits," 29 Aug. 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

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for antibiotic

The first known use of antibiotic was in 1891

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More Definitions for antibiotic

antibiotic

noun
How to pronounce antibiotic (audio) How to pronounce antibiotic (audio)

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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