de·​con·​tam·​i·​nate | \ ˌdē-kən-ˈta-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce decontaminate (audio) \
decontaminated; decontaminating; decontaminates

Definition of decontaminate

transitive verb

: to rid of contamination (such as radioactive material)

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Other Words from decontaminate

decontamination \ ˌdē-​kən-​ˌta-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce decontamination (audio) \ noun
decontaminator \ ˌdē-​kən-​ˈta-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce decontaminator (audio) \ noun

Examples of decontaminate in a Sentence

Special workers were called in to decontaminate the area after the oil spill.
Recent Examples on the Web After each use, the clothing must be discarded or decontaminated. Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Doctors begin treating coronavirus patients with drugs licensed for other diseases, as push to launch plasma clinical trials continues," 19 Mar. 2020 Notre-Dame must be completely cleared of the lead and decontaminated before experts are able to make decisions about how to start rebuilding the medieval landmark. Fox News, "Notre-Dame: What to know about efforts to save the historic cathedral," 10 Feb. 2020 The following day Chinese authorities closed and decontaminated the South China Seafood Wholesale Market, where some of the infected worked. Helen Branswell, Scientific American, "Cause of Wuhan’s Mysterious Pneumonia Cases Still Unknown, Chinese Officials Say," 6 Jan. 2020 The following day Chinese authorities closed and decontaminated the South China Seafood Wholesale Market, where some of the infected worked. Helen Branswell, STAT, "Cause of Wuhan’s mysterious pneumonia cases still unknown, Chinese officials say," 5 Jan. 2020 The bill, which has already passed the House, requires people to decontaminate their boats by cleaning and draining them after leaving the water. USA TODAY, "Lobster blood, Washington’s teeth, Hawaii shark hero: News from around our 50 states," 21 Feb. 2020 The government will be responsible for decontaminating the rooms before they are released back to Lackland. Lauren Caruba,, "Coronavirus evacuees expected in San Antonio on Friday," 6 Feb. 2020 But in fact, the government has been aggressively decontaminating and rehabilitating Fukushima prefecture, and life is slowly returning to the exclusion zone. Laura Mallonee, Wired, "The Eerie Repopulation of the Fukushima Exclusion Zone," 3 Feb. 2020 Those doused by the jet fuel were decontaminated with soap and water, and given gowns to wear. Faith Karimi, CNN, "5 key questions (and answers) about the Delta flight that doused children in jet fuel in LA," 16 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decontaminate.' 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 decontaminate

1936, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for decontaminate

Time Traveler

The first known use of decontaminate was in 1936

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Statistics for decontaminate

Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decontaminate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for decontaminate


How to pronounce decontaminate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of decontaminate

: to remove dirty or dangerous substances (such as radioactive material) from (a person, thing, place, etc.)


transitive verb
de·​con·​tam·​i·​nate | \ ˌdē-kən-ˈtam-ə-ˌnāt How to pronounce decontaminate (audio) \
decontaminated; decontaminating

Medical Definition of decontaminate

: to rid of contamination (as radioactive material)

Other Words from decontaminate

decontamination \ -​ˌtam-​ə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce decontamination (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on decontaminate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decontaminate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decontaminate

Spanish Central: Translation of decontaminate

Britannica English: Translation of decontaminate for Arabic Speakers

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