Try Our Apps


Famous Last Words


[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. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for decontamination
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • decontamination squads with fire bombs were shown as they sought to cleanse Euclid Avenue of its infected dead.

    Deepfreeze Robert Donald Locke
  • He turned away and walked back to the decontamination chamber.

    The Bramble Bush Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Some of the first, heavily loaded, were lifted to emptiness again and the process of decontamination of their hulls began.

    Pariah Planet Murray Leinster
  • 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
  • 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
  • Unless some means of decontamination can be found these new parts are no better than the old ones.

    The Year When Stardust Fell Raymond F. Jones
  • They passed through the decontamination shield and into the city.

    Tony and the Beetles Philip K. Dick
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source
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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for decontaminate

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for decontamination

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for decontamination