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 decontaminate (audio) \ noun
decontaminator \ ˌdē-​kən-​ˈta-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce decontaminate (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 Amid these concerns, Indiana DNR recommends that anyone who purchased moss balls from a pet or aquarium store this year to decontaminate and destroy the product — even if a zebra mussel is not clearly visible. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "Have an aquarium? Here are the 5 things to know about invasive zebra mussels in moss balls," 12 Mar. 2021 The West Virginia National Guard will decontaminate the building in the meantime, WCHS-TV reports. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Tree boom, suncatchers, tracing changes: News from around our 50 states," 10 Dec. 2020 Some of the confusion came from officers not being immediately debriefed because they were forced to decontaminate after the gas wafted back on them, the memo said. Matt Sledge,, "NOPD finds 'failures' in Crescent City Connection bridge tear gas confrontation in June," 21 Dec. 2020 The bureau is removing people who have had any exposures to those firefighters and has called in professional cleaning companies to decontaminate the stations, fire trucks and equipment, Gillespie said. oregonlive, "Portland Fire Bureau records 8 positive COVID tests among firefighters in last week, 57 quarantined," 25 Nov. 2020 Other expenses included more than $100,000 in mattress covers and at least $130,000 paid to a company to decontaminate the rooms. Jennifer Smith Richards,, "Body bags, hotel rooms — and grenades? How Illinois has spent over $1.6 billion in response to COVID-19.," 22 Oct. 2020 Other expenses included more than $100,000 in mattress covers and at least $130,000 paid to a company to decontaminate the rooms. Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica, "Grenades, Bread and Body Bags: How Illinois Has Spent $1.6 Billion in Response to COVID-19 So Far," 22 Oct. 2020 Many of them, including Henry Ford, tried to decontaminate N95 masks so they could be re-used. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Study: Ultraviolet-C light kills coronavirus on N95 masks, making them safe to reuse," 22 Sep. 2020 According to the company, this filter can decontaminate up to 1,000 gallons of water and remove up to 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, plus nix up to .02 microns. Nicole Briese, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Thursday," 3 Sep. 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

22 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decontaminate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for decontaminate



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 decontaminate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on decontaminate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decontaminate

Britannica English: Translation of decontaminate for Arabic Speakers

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