noun, often attributive
haz·​mat | \ ˈhaz-ˌmat How to pronounce hazmat (audio) \

Definition of hazmat

: a material (such as flammable or poisonous material) that would be a danger to life or to the environment if released without precautions

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

The origin of "hazmat" is clear enough - it was formed by combining the first three letters of each of two words: "hazardous" and "material." The word hazmat is fairly young, first appearing in print in 1980. Although it is a noun, "hazmat" tends to be used attributively, meaning that it often appears in sentences before another noun as if it were performing the duties of an adjective (as in "hazmat team" and "hazmat worker").

Examples of hazmat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At a high-speed rail station in the eastern city of Yiwu this past week, workers in hazmat suits demanded that passengers send the text messages that show their location data before being allowed to leave. Paul Mozur, BostonGlobe.com, "To tame coronavirus, Mao-style social control blankets China," 15 Feb. 2020 Like wearing a hazmat suit to the office, your last sentence is overkill. Washington Post, "My employer requires a flu shot. My doctors say no.," 12 Feb. 2020 The situation is more grim aboard the Diamond Princess, where those under quarantine watched as officials in hazmat suits carried their fellow passengers away. CBS News, "How the coronavirus is impacting cruises and passengers," 11 Feb. 2020 Mucinex chocolate clusters, peekaboo hazmat suits, and other treats for the feverish. Emily Flake, The New Yorker, "Valentine’s Day Gifts for Flu Season," 10 Feb. 2020 Buzz60 Small-town pharmacies and international online retailers alike are struggling to keep up with the public’s voracious demand for masks, hazmat suits and other gear to protect against coronavirus. Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY, "'Patients are on edge': Coronavirus fears trigger a run on masks, gloves and other gear," 7 Feb. 2020 One doctor in Huanggang -- named by Chinese state media as the city second-worst affected by the outbreak -- told CNN over the weekend that his hospital has no useable hazmat suits, face masks or shoe covers. Julia Hollingsworth And Natalie Thomas, CNN, "China's Red Cross is under fire for not getting supplies to hospitals. That's a problem for the government," 6 Feb. 2020 People in hazmat suits instructed Jaden to get out. Miriam Jordan, New York Times, "Home at Last From China: A Foreign Exchange Student’s Travel Ordeal," 4 Feb. 2020 That morning, workers in hazmat suits moved in, washing out stalls and spraying disinfectants. Chris Buckley, New York Times, "As New Coronavirus Spread, China’s Old Habits Delayed Fight," 1 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hazmat.' 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 hazmat

1972, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hazmat

hazardous material

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hazmat

Time Traveler for hazmat

Time Traveler

The first known use of hazmat was in 1972

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about hazmat

Statistics for hazmat

Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hazmat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hazmat. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hazmat


noun, often attributive
haz·​mat | \ ˈhaz-ˌmat \

Medical Definition of hazmat

: a material (as radioactive, flammable, explosive, or poisonous material) that would be a danger to life or to the environment if released without necessary precautions being taken toxic waste hauled away by workers in hazmat suits— Tom Spousta hazmat storage

Comments on hazmat

What made you want to look up hazmat? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!