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 video of supermodel Naomi Campbell disinfecting the life out of her seat area on a recent flight. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, "Thank You, Naomi Campbell, For Upgrading My Travel Life With This Simple Item," 13 Aug. 2019 The offer also applies to other items that include select furniture, food storage bags, disinfecting wipes, facial tissue, hand sanitize. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Teachers receive sweet Target discount ahead of new school year," 27 June 2019 Making sure any plantation employees or visitors disinfect boots and tires before entering or leaving the site helps, as will trying to maintain the health of the soil, but no countries have managed to successfully contain TR4. Matt Reynolds, WIRED, "A Fungus Could Wipe Out the Banana Forever," 19 Aug. 2019 Other steps include washing your hands often or using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching your eyes and mouth, disinfecting surfaces and toys with standard household products, and refraining from coming into close contact with anyone who's sick. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Sri Lanka is measles-free, World Health Organization says," 10 July 2019 The stalls are disinfected and the contents of the stalls are shoveled out onto the street, Koenen said. Zekriah Chaudhry, Twin Cities, "State Fair: Getting the animals in and out like a choreographed dance," 25 Aug. 2019 In 1917, American health officials in El Paso, Texas, launched a campaign to use toxic chemicals, including gasoline baths, to disinfect immigrants seeking to enter the United States through the US-Mexico border. Ranjani Chakraborty, Vox, "The dark history of “gasoline baths” at the border," 29 July 2019 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

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

10 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for disinfect

The first known use of disinfect was in 1598

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More Definitions for disinfect


How to pronounce disinfect (audio)

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

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to speed up the process or progress of

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