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

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

For example, females of some species of stink bug nestle a fecal pellet near freshly laid eggs to serve as the larvae’s first meal, thereby inoculating them with their mother’s gut microbiome. Quanta Magazine, "Should Evolution Treat Our Microbes as Part of Us?," 20 Nov. 2018 The latest list includes about 114 chemicals that were previously inoculated from tariffs. Marissa Luck, Houston Chronicle, "Latest proposed tariffs could hit U.S. chemical sector again," 19 June 2019 Garcia, the Democrat, argued that Trump, Cornyn and other Republicans on the ballot in Texas next year won’t be inoculated against backlash to the tariffs even if the impact subsides by Election Day. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "With Texas already teetering in 2020, could Trump's Mexico tariffs cost GOP the White House?," 7 June 2019 However, adults inoculated in the 1960s should talk to their doctors, as some of the vaccine used in that period appears not to be protective. Mari A. Schaefer,, "How the record U.S. measles outbreak could affect your summer plans," 4 June 2019 In an office the size of an airport lounge, the floor-to-ceiling windows lined with toy trucks, Mr. Ak exuded the satisfaction of someone seemingly inoculated against the chaos around him. New York Times, "Turkey’s Economy Is So Hot That It May Face a Meltdown," 10 July 2018 The ability of independent fact-finders to inoculate against the adaptation of disinformation will determine much about the integrity of the historical record — and our collective ability to hold power to account. Scott Edwards, Washington Post, "Fake news is about to get a lot worse. That will make it easier to violate human rights — and get away with it.," 3 Apr. 2018 But not even her gold medals have inoculated her against the stigmas attached to her next challenge: motherhood as a disabled woman. Gianluca Russo, Glamour, "Paralympian Alana Nichols Is Facing Her Biggest Challenge Yet: Motherhood as a Disabled Woman," 24 Mar. 2019 With funding from the National Institutes of Health, the investigators plan to inoculate participants with potential vaccines and then to inject them with small doses of the Zika virus to test the vaccines’ effectiveness. Emily Baumgaertner, New York Times, "Ethicists Call for More Scrutiny of ‘Human-Challenge’ Trials," 20 Apr. 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

15 Jul 2019

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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 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

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

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 form ideas or theories about something

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