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

The unfiltered water is disinfected with ultraviolet light and chlorine. Winnie Hu, New York Times, "A Billion-Dollar Investment in New York’s Water," 19 Jan. 2018 Campaigns by social media companies to disinfect American conversation may do more harm to the companies and their customers than to Russia’s effort to influence and disrupt American democracy. James Freeman, WSJ, "Can We Trust Facebook and Twitter?," 31 July 2018 The aquarium said that in the process of putting the shark in the bucket, the group dumped a bleach solution used to disinfect tools into the cold water exhibit filtration system. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Shark swiped from San Antonio Aquarium in baby stroller; suspect reportedly confesses," 30 July 2018 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

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

25 Apr 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).


using a distributed computer network

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