de·​terge di-ˈtərj How to pronounce deterge (audio)
deterged; deterging

transitive verb

: to wash off : cleanse
deterger noun

Did you know?

Deterge is not a particularly common word in the English language. However, it is related to a word with which most of us are likely familiar: "detergent." Like "detergent," "deterge" comes (possibly by way of French déterger) from the Latin verb detergēre, itself from de- and tergēre ("to wipe"). "Deterge" entered the English language in the early 1600s and has primarily been used in medical contexts, such as Ambrose Cooper's 1757 recipe for Vulnerary Water: "This Water is of excellent Service in Contusions, Tumors attending Dislocation, Fractures and Mortifications, the Part affected being bathed with it. Some also use it to deterge foul Ulcers, and incarn Wounds…."

Examples of deterge in a Sentence

deterge the surface using an industrial-strength commercial soap

Word History


French or Latin; French déterger, from Latin detergēre, from de- + tergēre to wipe

First Known Use

circa 1623, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deterge was circa 1623


Dictionary Entries Near deterge

Cite this Entry

“Deterge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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