1 a : preventing infection
b : free or freed from pathogenic microorganisms
2 : lacking vitality, emotion, or warmth
Did You Know?
Things cleaned specifically in a way that prevents infection were first described as "aseptic" in the late 19th century. The word combines the prefix "a-," meaning "not," and "septic," from Greek "sēptikos," meaning "putrifying." "Aseptic" was preceded by more than a century by "antiseptic" (from "anti-," meaning "opposing," and "sēptikos"), which entered English with the meaning "opposing sepsis, putrefaction, or decay." Both words can also be used, like "sterile," to suggest a lack of emotion, warmth, or interest. Evelyn Toynton used "aseptic" thus in The New York Times Book Review, November 22, 1987: "It's hard not to feel that an element of romance has been lost, that the vast chilly reaches of outer space are a pretty aseptic substitute for the shadowy depths under the ground.…"
Patients with compromised immune systems must be treated in aseptic environments.
"[The company's] innovative technology enables it to kill the bacteria that cause foods to go bad and make people sick without ruining the flavor. Not only does that produce tastier, more nutritious food but, by using aseptic packaging that is lighter and more space-efficient than cans, the overall carbon footprint is reduced, [David] Kirkpatrick said." - From an article by David Ranii in the News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), May 3, 2013
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Memory
What is the meaning of "inselberg," our Word of the Day from June 25? The answer is …
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP