fomite was our Word of the Day on 09/06/2013. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Did You Know?
Disinfectant on your hands keeps us healthier and fomites no longer foment as much disease. Australian newspaper contributor Peter Goers was likely going for alliteration when he paired up "fomite" and "foment," a verb meaning "to promote the growth or development of"-but, whether he realized it or not, the words "fomite" and "foment" are also related. "Fomite" is a back-formation of "fomites," the Latin plural of "fomes," itself a word for tinder. (Much like tinder is a catalyst of fire, a fomite can kindle disease.) "Fomes" is akin to the Latin verb fovēre ("to heat"), an ancestor of "foment."
Medical Definition of fomite
fomites\-ˌmīts; ˈfäm-ə-ˌtēz, ˈfōm-\play play
: an object (as a dish, toy, book, doorknob, or clothing) that may be contaminated with infectious organisms and serve in their transmission the much maligned toilet seat is a remarkably ineffective fomite—M. F. Rein what are the most common fomites for rotavirus in day-care settings—Pediatric Report's Child Health Newsletter
Learn More about fomite
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fomite
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up fomite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).