Definition of inoculate
1a : to introduce a microorganism into inoculate mice with anthrax beans inoculated with nitrogen-fixing bacteriab : to introduce (something, such as a microorganism) into a suitable situation for growthc : 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
inoculativeplay \i-ˈnä-kyə-ˌlā-tiv\ adjective
inoculatorplay \i-ˈnä-kyə-ˌlā-tər\ noun
inoculate was our Word of the Day on 11/27/2009. Hear the podcast!
Examples of inoculate in a Sentence
inoculated them with the idea that the individual can always make a difference in this world
Recent Examples of inoculate from the Web
The strategy does, however, enable the filmmakers to keep Bell in a bubble, inoculated from the disapproval her work received in subsequent years.
In week 2, the animals were inoculated with mouse breast cancer cells.
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 1721
Synonym Discussion of inoculate
INOCULATE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of inoculate for English Language Learners
medical : to give (a person or animal) a weakened form of a disease in order to prevent infection by the disease
INOCULATE Defined for Kids
Definition of inoculate for Students
: to inject a material (as a vaccine) into to protect against or treat a disease
History for inoculate
Similar to the way that we use “eye” for the undeveloped bud on a potato, the Romans used the Latin word oculus, “eye,” to mean “bud of a plant.” Having learned that the oculus or bud from one plant can be grafted onto another, the Romans derived the verb inoculare from oculus to refer to the process of grafting. English borrowed this verb as inoculate with the same meaning. Introducing a small amount of material to make a person immune to a disease is like implanting a bud, so the verb inoculate was also used for this procedure.
Medical Definition of inoculate
transitive verb: 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 bacteriab: 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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up inoculate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).