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

Authorities say decontaminating rescue personnel and equipment took considerable time. Fox News, "Boy, 3, rescued from manure pit on farm," 20 May 2018 In a previous statement, police said there was no evidence that Sturgess or Rowley visited any of the sites that were decontaminated after the poisoning of the Skripals. NBC News, "British police determine source of nerve agent that poisoned couple," 13 July 2018 The story mostly fell out of the headlines after the Skripals recovered and several sites around Salisbury were decontaminated. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "British Woman Dies After Being Exposed to Nerve Agent Used on Former Russian Spy," 9 July 2018 Most areas have been decontaminated to the point where full bodysuits are no longer required. Vince Beiser, WIRED, "The Robot Assault On Fukushima," 26 Apr. 2018 Officials are also working to decontaminate the area in hopes of avoiding any additional exposures. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Russian Officials Are Already Denying Involvement in Second U.K. Nerve Agent Poisoning," 5 July 2018 Traces of Novichok were found in a restaurant and a bar near where Skripal and his daughter were found, but the area was thoroughly decontaminated. Fortune, "What Is Novichok? Why the Russian Nerve Agent Is So Dangerous," 5 July 2018 The bad news is that these new Novichok cases suggest that there’s still Novichok in Salisbury, despite efforts to decontaminate the area. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Novichok nerve agent strikes two new victims in the UK," 4 July 2018 Maybe more cities will step up to decontaminate their waste, like San Francisco. Ellen Airhart, WIRED, "China Won’t Solve the World’s Plastics Problem Any More," 20 June 2018

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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Statistics for decontaminate

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for decontaminate

The first known use of decontaminate was in 1936

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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 decontamination (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on decontaminate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decontaminate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decontaminate

Spanish Central: Translation of decontaminate

Britannica English: Translation of decontaminate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on decontaminate

What made you want to look up decontaminate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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