pre·​treat ˌprē-ˈtrēt How to pronounce pretreat (audio)
variants or pre-treat
pretreated or pre-treated; pretreating or pre-treating

transitive verb

: to treat previously : to subject to pretreatment
pretreat the stain before washing
pretreated the roads with sand/salt before the snowstorm
pretreating wastewater
… he now pretreats patients with medicines to counter possible reactions.Elisabeth Rosenthal

Examples of pretreat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web After removing all the gum using one of our strategies below, pretreat the area with stain remover spray or a hefty dab of dish or laundry soap before laundering. Ann Wilson, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 Oct. 2023 If your comforter becomes soiled, pretreat the stain right away. Maria V. Charbonneaux, Better Homes & Gardens, 9 June 2023 Benton County Road Department crews will pretreat roads with salt brine when the rain stops ahead of what may happen Wednesday and Thursday, said Jay Frasier, county administrator of public services. Mike Jones, Arkansas Online, 22 Feb. 2022 For best results, it is recommended to pretreat any stained areas by pouring a small amount of detergent directly onto them. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 22 Apr. 2023 Jay Frasier, public services administrator, said crews started to pretreat roads with a salt brine mixture Tuesday. Tracy Neal, Arkansas Online, 23 Feb. 2022 Pretreat: Next, pretreat the area with an oil- and grease-fighting stain remover, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Brigitt Earley, Good Housekeeping, 7 Apr. 2023 This is a big win since not having to pretreat every single stain saves time and money. Quincy Bulin, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Jan. 2023 Thursday morning, the TxDOT Tyler district said in a tweet crews were on standby along Interstate 20, as well as continuing to pretreat bridges in Gregg and Smith Counties. Dallas News, 3 Feb. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pretreat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1926, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pretreat was in 1926

Dictionary Entries Near pretreat

Cite this Entry

“Pretreat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to treat (as soiled clothes) before laundering

Medical Definition


transitive verb
pre·​treat -ˈtrēt How to pronounce pretreat (audio)
: to subject to pretreatment
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