dis·​in·​fect | \ ˌdis-in-ˈfekt How to pronounce disinfect (audio) \
disinfected; disinfecting; disinfects

Definition of disinfect

transitive verb

1 : to free from infection especially by destroying harmful microorganisms broadly : cleanse
2 : to remove a software virus (see virus sense 3) from (a computer or device) often by means of a special program The earliest viruses were relatively simple routines, and virus detectors could easily disinfect computers.— Philips Chien

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from disinfect

disinfection \ ˌdis-​in-​ˈfek-​shən How to pronounce disinfection (audio) \ noun

Examples of disinfect in a Sentence

Chemicals were added to disinfect the water. The wound needs to be disinfected.

Recent Examples on the Web

Dampen the bottom inside of the shoes using a hand sanitizer or disinfecting spray, then let the shoes dry overnight. Heloise, Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: It came from beneath the feet," 12 July 2019 The process involves disinfecting the water with chlorine, then membrane filtration, reverse osmosis and ultra violet/advanced oxidation sterilization. Karen Pearlman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Helix pledges additional $2.5 million for Padre Dam reclaimed water plan," 9 July 2019 In the post, authorities urged residents to disinfect their water by boiling it for one full minute in a clean container before using it to prepare food, brush teeth or drink. Olivia Prentzel, nola.com, "Boil water advisory issued for parts of St. John the Baptist Parish," 22 June 2019 Is one antibacterial wipe enough to disinfect my entire mat? Jessica Toscano, SELF, "Here's How Often You Should Really Clean Your Yoga Mat," 12 Apr. 2019 Additionally, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir water is disinfected by chlorine and UV before being served to the public, which should further address any concerns. Paul Rogers, The Mercury News, "Yosemite: Man found dead in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir may be missing Los Gatos hiker," 27 June 2019 Upon boarding an aircraft, Patricia removes a to-go pack of Lysol disinfecting wipes to douse the seating area, seatbelt buckle, and air vent. Luzanne Otte, Town & Country, "Patricia Altschul's Very Specific Guide to Traveling in Style," 18 May 2019 The concept of disinfecting our hands with antiseptics is a medical innovation that dates to the early 1820s, when doctors started moistening their hands with liquid chlorides to help contain the spread of contagious diseases. Elizabeth Kiefer, Washington Post, "Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are still a safe bet," 10 June 2019 Its main compounds are polyphenols, known as limonoids, and naringenin, which help when killing bacteria in laundry, cleaning carpet spills (that could lead to mold growth!), and for disinfecting and sterilizing spaces. Cate Geiger, Country Living, "How to Get Rid of Black Mold Naturally," 23 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disinfect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of disinfect

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for disinfect

Middle French desinfecter, from des- dis- + infecter to infect

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about disinfect

Statistics for disinfect

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for disinfect

The first known use of disinfect was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for disinfect



English Language Learners Definition of disinfect

: to clean (something) especially by using a chemical substance that kills all germs and bacteria
computers : to remove a virus from (a computer) by using a special program


dis·​in·​fect | \ ˌdi-sᵊn-ˈfekt How to pronounce disinfect (audio) \
disinfected; disinfecting

Kids Definition of disinfect

: to cleanse of germs that might cause disease


transitive verb
dis·​in·​fect | \ ˌdis-ᵊn-ˈfekt How to pronounce disinfect (audio) \

Medical Definition of disinfect

: to free from infection especially by destroying harmful microorganisms

Other Words from disinfect

disinfection \ -​ˈfek-​shən How to pronounce disinfection (audio) \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on disinfect

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disinfect

Spanish Central: Translation of disinfect

Nglish: Translation of disinfect for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of disinfect for Arabic Speakers

Comments on disinfect

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


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!