dis·​in·​fect | \ˌdis-in-ˈfekt \

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 \ 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

The RiskIQ report came a day after Dutch researcher Willem de Groot published a separate analysis reporting that one in five sites that are infected with Magecart skimmers are reinfected after being disinfected. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "E-commerce site is infected not by one, but two card skimmers," 20 Nov. 2018 First, your doctor will disinfect your skin with rubbing alcohol to try to prevent an infection, Dr. Bailey says. Korin Miller, SELF, "How Bad Is It Really to Remove an Ingrown Hair Yourself?," 20 Sep. 2018 Step 2: Clean and disinfect Use a cloth to wipe down the cutting board with vinegar. Meghan Caudill, Good Housekeeping, "How To Recondition An Old Wooden Cutting Board," 23 Aug. 2017 The flow was disinfected with chlorine to kill bacteria before it was discharged to the lake. Don Behm, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee sewer overflow volumes topped 363 million gallons in June 18-19 storms," 23 June 2018 Steps to fully disinfect devices vary from model to model. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "VPNFilter malware infecting 500,000 devices is worse than we thought," 6 June 2018 Use the same dilution as your toothbrush soak to disinfect your kitchen cleaning tools. Mandy Ferreira, Good Housekeeping, "13 Amazingly Useful Things You Can Do With Tea Tree Essential Oil," 27 July 2017 Sabrina Castle, another member of the team, said the project uses a five-step process to treat and disinfect the water. Diana Alba Soular, USA TODAY, "All-female engineer team tackles cleaning space station water," 12 Apr. 2018 In addition to disinfecting the bite and helping to prevent infection, tea tree oil is also anti-inflammatory which helps to reduce itch and prevent bug bites from swelling. Mandy Ferreira, Good Housekeeping, "13 Amazingly Useful Things You Can Do With Tea Tree Essential Oil," 27 July 2017

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

5 Dec 2018

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 \
disinfected; disinfecting

Kids Definition of disinfect

: to cleanse of germs that might cause disease


transitive verb
dis·​in·​fect | \ˌdis-ᵊn-ˈfekt \

Medical Definition of disinfect 

: to free from infection especially by destroying harmful microorganisms

Other Words from disinfect

disinfection \-​ˈfek-​shən \ 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 move with a clumsy heavy tread

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
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!