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[dee-kuh n-tam-uh-neyt] /ˌdi kənˈtæm əˌneɪt/
verb (used with object), decontaminated, decontaminating.
to make (an object or area) safe for unprotected personnel by removing, neutralizing, or destroying any harmful substance, as radioactive material or poisonous gas.
to make free of contamination; purify:
to decontaminate a sickroom.
Origin of decontaminate
First recorded in 1935-40; de- + contaminate
Related forms
decontamination, noun
decontaminative, adjective
decontaminator, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for decontamination
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He turned away and walked back to the decontamination chamber.

    The Bramble Bush Gordon Randall Garrett
  • They passed through the decontamination shield and into the city.

    Tony and the Beetles Philip K. Dick
  • decontamination squads with fire bombs were shown as they sought to cleanse Euclid Avenue of its infected dead.

    Deepfreeze Robert Donald Locke
  • And it took us two weeks of bunking with the sullen crew and decontamination before we could pick up life again.

    Let'em Breathe Space Lester del Rey
  • He wandered around the decontamination room, looking at everything, hoping he might see something that would give him a clue.

    The Bramble Bush Gordon Randall Garrett
  • He went through the radiation trap to the decontamination chamber to wash off whatever it was he had picked up.

    The Bramble Bush Gordon Randall Garrett
  • decontamination jets hissed, sluicing the ship to remove surface contamination.

    The Lani People J. F. Bone
British Dictionary definitions for decontamination


(transitive) to render (an area, building, object, etc) harmless by the removal, distribution, or neutralization of poisons, radioactivity, etc
Derived Forms
decontaminant, noun
decontamination, noun
decontaminative, adjective
decontaminator, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for decontamination



1936, from de- + contaminate. Originally in reference to poison gas. Related: Decontaminated; decontaminating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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decontamination in Medicine

decontamination de·con·tam·i·na·tion (dē'kən-tām'ə-nā'shən)
The removal or neutralization of a contaminating substance, such as poisonous gas or a radioactive material.

de'con·tam'i·nate (-nāt') v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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