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 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 The two workers in the UNC lab at the time of the incident left and allowed the aerosolized particles from the incident to settle to the ground before returning to decontaminate the area. Jessica Blake, ProPublica, "Here Are Six Accidents UNC Researchers Had With Lab-Created Coronaviruses," 17 Aug. 2020 Firefighters clean and wipe down equipment and materials that were exposed, deciding whether to decontaminate or to dispose of items, Pixley said. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Ten Denver firefighters test positive for coronavirus," 30 Mar. 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

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decontaminate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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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 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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