in·​oc·​u·​late | \ i-ˈnä-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce inoculate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce inoculative (audio) \ adjective
inoculator \ i-​ˈnä-​kyə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce inoculator (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 The thinking is that a rate cut now — and possibly one or more additional cuts to follow — could help inoculate the economy against a potential downturn. Washington Post, "Fed is poised to cut rates for first time in a decade," 31 July 2019 The thinking is that a rate cut now — and possibly one or more additional cuts to follow — could help inoculate the economy against a potential downturn. CBS News, "Fed is poised to cut rates for first time since the recession," 31 July 2019 Opting out, those experts warn, should be limited to only those who can’t be safely vaccinated, including babies too young to be inoculated against certain diseases or children with medical conditions such as cancer. Los Angeles Times, "Dr. Bob Sears’ views on vaccines have inspired loyal followers — and a crush of criticism," 3 Sep. 2019 The owner keeps it pruned and inoculated against beech-blight aphids (Grylloprociphilus imbricator) that also encourage a fungus, a sooty mold (Scorias spongiosa). C.d. Wright, Harper's magazine, "Life’s a Beech," 10 Jan. 2019 These fears go back at least to the 18th century when efforts to inoculate people against smallpox in Boston were met with fierce resistance. Jonathan Kennedy, Quartz, "The anti-vax movement is effectively reversing decades of progress in disease prevention," 11 Sep. 2019 From the middle of the 19th century, parents who refused to have their children inoculated against smallpox were fined or sent to prison. The Economist, "The original anti-vaxxers," 30 Aug. 2019 Beyond describing them as vocational training facilities, Xinjiang officials said the camps offered classes that have effectively inoculated Uighurs against the temptation to embrace religious extremism or terrorism. Chris Buckley,, "China says most Muslims have been released from camps. Others say prove it.," 30 July 2019 The response included inoculating people on the street, which Calzo said made sense on some levels but also was a missed opportunity to do better outreach and perpetuated a perception that homeless people were at fault for spreading the disease. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Researchers find environment perpetuates stigma of homelessness," 9 June 2019

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

4 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for inoculate

The first known use of inoculate was in 1721

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on inoculate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inoculate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inoculate

Spanish Central: Translation of inoculate

Nglish: Translation of inoculate for Spanish Speakers

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 spread as a report or rumor

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