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

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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

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 But experts say the government must ramp up quickly, to inoculate 2 million people a week - 10 times the current rate - to beat back the pandemic. Author: William Booth, Karla Adam, Anchorage Daily News, "U.K. is first country to authorize Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine," 30 Dec. 2020 China plans to inoculate 50 million people with two experimental homegrown Covid-19 vaccines before February’s Lunar New Year holiday season, leading up to vaccinations for the broader public by spring, people familiar with the matter said. Chao Deng, WSJ, "China to Vaccinate 50 Million People With Its Covid-19 Shots," 18 Dec. 2020 Pfizer agreed this summer to provide the United States with 100 million doses by the end of March, enough to inoculate 50 million people since its vaccine requires two shots. New York Times, "U.S. and Pfizer Are Negotiating Deal for More Vaccine Doses Next Year," 15 Dec. 2020 The first delivery of 800,000 shots will only be enough to inoculate 0.5 percent of the country's 67 million people. NBC News, "Britain settles in for arduous reality of coronavirus vaccinations after euphoria of being first," 9 Dec. 2020 The order appeared to be a response to reports that the Trump administration, which purchased 100 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer – enough to inoculate 50 million people – passed up a chance last summer to buy millions more doses. David Jackson And John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Trump touts COVID-19 vaccines at 'summit' amid growing questions over timeline, number of doses," 9 Dec. 2020 It is anticipated that the vaccines delivered to Minnesota in December will be enough to inoculate 91,700 people. Scott Mcclallen, Washington Examiner, "Minnesota could get 183,400 COVID-19 vaccines by end of 2020," 9 Dec. 2020 But because the vaccine requires two doses, this is only enough to inoculate 50 million people — far, far short of the whole population. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "Trump's jaw-dropping vaccine screwup," 8 Dec. 2020 In New Jersey, the state health department’s goal is to inoculate 70% of the adult population, or 4.7 million people, within six months. USA Today, "Getting a vaccine has been a huge undertaking. How all 50 states scramble to dole them out is the next massive challenge.," 8 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.

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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

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The first known use of inoculate was in 1721

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Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inoculate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for inoculate


How to pronounce inoculate (audio)

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 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inoculate

Nglish: Translation of inoculate for Spanish Speakers

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