in·​oc·​u·​late | \ i-ˈnä-kyə-ˌlāt \
inoculated; inoculating

Definition of inoculate 

transitive verb

1a : to introduce a microorganism into inoculate mice with anthrax beans inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria
b : to introduce (something, such as a microorganism) into a suitable situation for growth
c : 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
2 : to introduce something into the mind of
3 : to protect as if by inoculation

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Other Words from inoculate

inoculative \ i-​ˈnä-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tiv \ adjective
inoculator \ i-​ˈnä-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms for inoculate


endue (or indue), imbue, inculcate, infuse, ingrain (also engrain), invest, steep, suffuse

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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 in English of "inoculate" in Middle English: "to insert a bud in a plant." 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

In the days leading up to the elections, Trump emphasized that history was against him because most presidents see their party lose seats in midterm elections, in effect trying to inoculate himself against any backlash that might come with a defeat. Peter Baker, The Seattle Times, "A partisan war awaits Trump. That just might suit him.," 6 Nov. 2018 The firm also sold 252,600 doses of ineffective DPT vaccines to inoculate children against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus. Fox News, "China says vaccine maker Changsheng broke manufacturing rules, faked records: Xinhua," 27 July 2018 For many others, though, Ms. McGrath’s military service will be appealing and could help to inoculate her on a number of issues. Michael Tackett, New York Times, "In Conservative Kentucky, Power of Female Candidates Is Tested in Key House Race," 16 June 2018 That means that cheesemakers inoculate the cheese with edible mold that blooms on the outside of the paste. Alex Delany, Bon Appetit, "Stop Leaving the Brie Rind Behind, You Monster," 25 Apr. 2018 Just as in public health, these education programs must not be only at our schools, but be joined by a broader, whole-of-society effort to inoculate vulnerable citizens against harmful misinformation. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "A military expert explains why social media is the new battlefield," 12 Oct. 2018 Successful gardeners rely on compost to improve soil fertility and moisture management, nourish helpful microbes, and inoculate against destructive ones. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Build the Ultimate Outdoor Compost Bin," 13 July 2018 Here in the camps housing thousands of families seeking safety from the extremists, health teams are going from tent to tent, inoculating youngsters against the disease that withers limbs and disables children for life. Washington Post, "Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremists hamper polio eradication," 16 Apr. 2018 Rather than cultivate them in a cave, the locals drill holes in logs and inoculate them with spores. David Tanis, New York Times, "Bouncy Noodles, Bright Greens, Quick Broth: A Perfect Bowl," 16 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of inoculate

1721, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

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Statistics for inoculate

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for inoculate

The first known use of inoculate was in 1721

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English Language Learners Definition of inoculate

medical : 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 \
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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on inoculate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inoculate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inoculate

Spanish Central: Translation of inoculate

Nglish: Translation of inoculate for Spanish Speakers

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