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

Nan ru is tofu that is brined and fermented with rice that has been inoculated with a deep red strain of mold. Julia Moskin, New York Times, "Mastering Chinese-Style Ribs at Home," 9 July 2018 In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, the popular governor so far appears to be inoculating himself from a backlash against a president many Democratic voters despise. Steve Thompson, Washington Post, "Even as they voted in the Democratic primary, many Marylanders inclined to back Hogan this fall.," 27 June 2018 Want to be inoculated against the pain of moving from one building to another? Rick Kogan,, "Farewell to Tribune Tower: Friday we pack our boxes and depart what has been this newspaper's home," 8 June 2018 During this phase, the plan is to inoculate all health care workers and family members and others who have come into close contact with the ill. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Ebola outbreak in DRC is 'ongoing' but WHO is 'cautiously optimistic'," 8 June 2018 How could Germany inoculate itself against a future return of fascism? Damon Linker, New York Times, "The Sickness of Our Time: Is It Populism or Fascism?," 1 Feb. 2018 While individuals treated in pain management clinics or by physicians specializing in pain management may be inoculated against or protected from this stigma, not everyone with cancer has access to these professionals. Kathleen Hoffman, STAT, "Opioid stigma is keeping many cancer patients from getting the pain control they need," 6 July 2018 Local veterinarian Joseph Cosman will inoculate the animals from 10 a.m. to noon for $14 per animal. Zipporah Osei,, "Community Bulletin Board," 27 Apr. 2018 And in that overwhelming run-up to the eventual goodbye, overbuying and over-packing are easy mistakes to make as parents hope to inoculate their teens against every collegiate scenario. Lisa A. Flam, Fox News, "Preparing your teen for college dorm life? Don't over-pack," 10 July 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

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for inoculate

The first known use of inoculate was in 1721

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More Definitions for inoculate



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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Comments on inoculate

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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