car·​ba·​pen·​em ˌkär-bə-ˈpe-nəm How to pronounce carbapenem (audio)
: any of a class of broad-spectrum antibiotics (such as imipenem) resistant to hydrolysis by beta-lactamase
Another class of antibiotics, carbapenems, is used as an antibiotic of last resort for the most persistent infections.Nicholas Bakalar

Examples of carbapenem in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Then, in 2010, a study of a New Delhi-area hospital found that 24 percent of bacterial infections there could resist the last-resort carbapenem antibiotics. Sonia Shah, Foreign Affairs, 28 Mar. 2012 For instance, among isolates of Acinetobacter baumannii, a common cause of nosocomial infections, 68 percent were resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, a class of antibiotics often used as a last-line defense. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 11 July 2023 In the case of Fowler’s patient, the specific E. coli bacteria strain had a gene that makes a protein called NDM-1, which can break down even the strongest, last-resort antibiotics, called carbapenems. Caroline Hopkins, NBC News, 29 Mar. 2023 This type of bacteria, resistant to the potent antibiotic carbapenem, infected 8,500 in hospitals and killed 700 in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, 27 May 2023 The new strain, never seen before in the U.S., can survive exposure to at least 12 different kinds of antibiotics—including carbapenems, key drugs given as a last resort. Allison Parshall, Scientific American, 14 Apr. 2023 Colistin is an old antibiotic that’s considered the last line of defense against certain infections, including those that are resistant to carbapenems, another last-resort class of antibiotics. Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times, 10 Apr. 2023 The government agencies say these products were tainted during manufacturing with a rare strain of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa that is resistant to the common, powerful antibiotics known as carbapenems. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 23 Mar. 2023 The Shigella samples retained susceptibility to four antibiotics: carbapenems, chloramphenicol, fosfomycin and temocillin. Benjamin Ryan, NBC News, 1 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'carbapenem.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1979, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of carbapenem was in 1979

Dictionary Entries Near carbapenem

Cite this Entry

“Carbapenem.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition


car·​ba·​pen·​em ˌkär-bə-ˈpe-nəm How to pronounce carbapenem (audio)
: any of a class of broad-spectrum beta-lactam antibiotics (such as imipenem) having a five-membered ring system similar to the penicillins but containing a carbon atom instead of a sulfur atom
It rendered the Klebsiella, which was already resistant to many antibiotics used in critical care medicine, insensitive to the only remaining group that worked reliably and safely—the carbapenems, the so-called drugs of last resort.Maryn McKenna, Scientific American
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