ster·​il·​ant ˈster-ə-lənt How to pronounce sterilant (audio)
plural sterilants
: an agent used for sterilizing something: such as
: a substance or preparation (such as ethylene oxide gas or hydrogen peroxide) that destroys or inactivates all types of microorganisms

Note: Sterilants are often distinguished from disinfectants by being effective against dormant bacterial endospores.

The substance, a colorless gas, is used widely as a fumigant, sterilant, and pesticide …R. Jeffrey Smith
: an agent that makes a living organism incapable of reproduction
chemical insect sterilants

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In a conference call with reporters, NASA Glenn research aerospace engineer Marit Meyer said the existing product works on pre-hospital environments, after they are cleaned and wiped down, by depositing sterilant on surfaces. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, 24 Apr. 2020 Another goal is to minimize the amount of sterilant the device uses to reduce costs without sacrificing effectiveness. Sabrina Eaton, cleveland, 24 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sterilant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1913, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sterilant was in 1913

Dictionary Entries Near sterilant

Cite this Entry

“Sterilant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


ster·​il·​ant ˈster-ə-lənt How to pronounce sterilant (audio)
: a sterilizing agent
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