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

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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

Government officials are considering providing funding to small and medium-size banana exporters to help them implement better biosecurity measures, such as disinfecting machinery, shipping containers, and footwear in quarantined areas. Sabine Galvis, Science | AAAS, "Colombia confirms that dreaded fungus has hit its banana plantations," 12 Aug. 2019 This tends to happen when people are in splashy water parks, jet-skiing, or irrigating their sinuses with tap water that hasn’t been disinfected, boiled, or filtered. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Brain-eating amoeba kills again—here’s how it kills and how to avoid it," 26 July 2019 Private wells also should be tested and disinfected. Dallas News, "Sewer overflow dumps into Plano's Cottonwood Creek; well owners urged to boil water," 17 July 2019 For human health, only contact the animal while wearing gloves and be studious in washing skin thoroughly and disinfecting. oregonlive.com, "Ask an Expert: Get the right planting mix for healthy blueberries," 19 July 2019 Wooden feeders can’t be disinfected properly, so metal or plastic should be used. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "Contagious house finch eye disease reported in Walnut Creek area," 17 June 2019 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

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.

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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

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Statistics for disinfect

Last Updated

15 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for disinfect

The first known use of disinfect was in 1598

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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

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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 move or obtain by small maneuvers

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