in·​oc·​u·​late | \ i-ˈnä-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce inoculate (audio) \
inoculated; inoculating

Definition of inoculate

transitive verb

1a : to introduce immunologically active material (such as an antibody or antigen) into especially in order to treat or prevent a disease inoculate children against diphtheria
b : to introduce a microorganism into inoculate mice with anthrax beans inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria
c : to introduce (something, such as a microorganism) into a suitable situation for growth
2 : to protect as if by inoculation
3 : to introduce something into the mind of

Other Words from inoculate

inoculative \ i-​ˈnä-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce inoculate (audio) \ adjective
inoculator \ i-​ˈnä-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce inoculate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for inoculate


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for inoculate

infuse, suffuse, imbue, ingrain, inoculate, leaven mean to introduce one thing into another so as to affect it throughout. infuse implies a pouring in of something that gives new life or significance. new members infused enthusiasm into the club suffuse implies a spreading through of something that gives an unusual color or quality. a room suffused with light imbue implies the introduction of a quality that fills and permeates the whole being. imbue students with intellectual curiosity ingrain, used only in the passive or past participle, suggests the deep implanting of a quality or trait. clung to ingrained habits inoculate implies an imbuing or implanting with a germinal idea and often suggests stealth or subtlety. an electorate inoculated with dangerous ideas leaven implies introducing something that enlivens, tempers, or markedly alters the total quality. a serious play leavened with comic moments

Did you know?

If you think you see a connection between inoculate and ocular ("of or relating to the eye"), you are not mistaken—both words look back to oculus, the Latin word for "eye." But what does the eye have to do with inoculation? Our answer lies in the original use of inoculate in Middle English: "to insert a bud in a plant for propagation." Latin oculus was sometimes applied to things that were seen to resemble eyes, and one such thing was the bud of a plant. Inoculate was later applied to other forms of engrafting or implanting, including the introduction of vaccines as a preventative against disease.

Examples of inoculate in a Sentence

inoculated them with the idea that the individual can always make a difference in this world
Recent Examples on the Web Health officials declared the U.S. polio-free in 1979 following a long campaign to inoculate Americans after virologist Jonas Salk invented the vaccine in 1953. David Kindy, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Nov. 2021 After months of acute shortages, a raging second wave, an opaque system of placing vaccine orders, and technical glitches, India finally seems to be on track to at least partially inoculate its adult population by December. Manavi Kapur, Quartz, 21 Oct. 2021 Australia is continuing to battle outbreaks, while also racing to inoculate its population. Rob Mcguirk, USA TODAY, 5 Oct. 2021 Australia is racing to inoculate its population as an outbreak of the more contagious delta variant that began in Sydney in June continues to spread., 4 Oct. 2021 Health officials say millions more doses are needed to inoculate the general population and end the pandemic. Nicholas Bariyo, WSJ, 12 June 2021 CoronaVac shot to inoculate the elderly population. Washington Post, 11 June 2021 While Japan struggles to inoculate its population amid a continued surge in Covid-19 cases, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) steadfast insistence that the games will go forward is drawing a sharp rebuke from people in the country. Siladitya Ray, Forbes, 24 May 2021 Countries across the European Union on Sunday began administering the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, signaling the official start of the bloc’s campaign to inoculate more than 450 million people. New York Times, 27 Dec. 2020

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

1721, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for inoculate

Middle English, to insert a bud in a plant, from Latin inoculatus, past participle of inoculare, from in- + oculus eye, bud — more at eye

Learn More About inoculate

Time Traveler for inoculate

Time Traveler

The first known use of inoculate was in 1721

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About inoculate

Dictionary Entries Near inoculate




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for inoculate

Last Updated

12 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Inoculate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for inoculate



English Language Learners Definition of inoculate

: to give (a person or animal) a weakened form of a disease in order to prevent infection by the disease


in·​oc·​u·​late | \ i-ˈnä-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce inoculate (audio) \
inoculated; inoculating

Kids Definition of inoculate

: to inject a material (as a vaccine) into to protect against or treat a disease


in·​oc·​u·​late | \ in-ˈäk-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce inoculate (audio) \
inoculated; inoculating

Medical Definition of inoculate

transitive verb

1 : to communicate a disease to (an organism) by inserting its causative agent into the body 12 mice inoculated with anthrax
2a : to introduce microorganisms or viruses onto or into (an organism, substrate, or culture medium) inoculated a rat with bacteria
b : to introduce (as a microorganism or antiserum) into an organism or onto a culture medium inoculate a pure culture of bacteria into a healthy host
3 : to introduce immunologically active material (as an antibody or antigen) into especially in order to treat or prevent a disease inoculate children against diphtheria

intransitive verb

: to introduce microorganisms, vaccines, or sera by inoculation

More from Merriam-Webster on inoculate

Nglish: Translation of inoculate for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!