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[kwawr-uh n-teen, kwor-, kwawr-uh n-teen, kwor-] /ˈkwɔr ənˌtin, ˈkwɒr-, ˌkwɔr ənˈtin, ˌkwɒr-/
a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.
a period, originally 40 days, of detention or isolation imposed upon ships, persons, animals, or plants on arrival at a port or place, when suspected of carrying some infectious or contagious disease.
a system of measures maintained by governmental authority at ports, frontiers, etc., for preventing the spread of disease.
the branch of the governmental service concerned with such measures.
a place or station at which such measures are carried out, as a special port or dock where ships are detained.
the detention or isolation enforced.
the place, especially a hospital, where people are detained.
a period of 40 days.
social, political, or economic isolation imposed as a punishment, as in ostracizing an individual or enforcing sanctions against a foreign state.
verb (used with object), quarantined, quarantining.
to put in or subject to quarantine.
to exclude, detain, or isolate for political, social, or hygienic reasons.
Origin of quarantine
1600-10; < Italian quarantina, variant of quarantena, orig. Upper Italian (Venetian): period of forty days, group of forty, derivative of quaranta forty ≪ Latin quadrāgintā
Related forms
quarantinable, adjective
quarantiner, noun
prequarantine, noun, verb (used with object), prequarantined, prequarantining.
unquarantined, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for quarantining
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Note that, after the quarantining of measles in 1896, the death-rate dropped at once.

    A Handbook of Health

    Woods Hutchinson
  • And having said it, he relighted his quarantining pipe and refused to meet my eye.

    The Prairie Child Arthur Stringer
  • quarantining was very unpopular with the very people who were benefited most by it, hence the passage of this act.

British Dictionary definitions for quarantining


a period of isolation or detention, esp of persons or animals arriving from abroad, to prevent the spread of disease, usually consisting of the maximum known incubation period of the suspected disease
the place or area where such detention is enforced
any period or state of enforced isolation
verb (transitive)
to isolate in or as if in quarantine
(Austral) to withhold (a portion of a welfare payment) from a person or group of people
Word Origin
C17: from Italian quarantina period of forty days, from quaranta forty, from Latin quadrāgintā
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 quarantining



1520s, "period of 40 days in which a widow has the right to remain in her dead husband's house." Earlier quarentyne (15c.), "desert in which Christ fasted for 40 days," from Latin quadraginta "forty," related to quattuor "four" (see four).

Sense of "period a ship suspected of carrying disease is kept in isolation" is 1660s, from Italian quarantina giorni, literally "space of forty days," from quaranta "forty," from Latin quadraginta. So called from the Venetian custom of keeping ships from plague-stricken countries waiting off its port for 40 days (first enforced 1377) to assure that no latent cases were aboard. The extended sense of "any period of forced isolation" is from 1670s.



1804, from quarantine (n.). Related: Quarantined; quarantining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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quarantining in Medicine

quarantine quar·an·tine (kwôr'ən-tēn')

  1. A period of time during which a vehicle, person, or material suspected of carrying a contagious disease is detained at a port of entry under enforced isolation to prevent disease from entering a country.

  2. A place for such detention.

  3. Enforced isolation or restriction of free movement imposed to prevent the spread of contagious disease.

  4. A condition of enforced isolation.

  5. A period of 40 days.

v. quar·an·tined, quar·an·tin·ing, quar·an·tines
To isolate in or as if in quarantine.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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quarantining in Culture
quarantine [(kwawr-uhn-teen, kwahr-uhn-teen)]

The isolation of people who either have a contagious disease or have been exposed to one, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease.

Note: The term is sometimes used politically to designate the political and economic isolation of a nation in retribution for unacceptable policies: “When Iraq invaded Kuwait, it was placed in quarantine by the nations of the world.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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