a heavy vessel for conducting chemical reactions under high pressure.
Medicine/Medical, Bacteriology. an apparatus in which steam under pressure effects sterilization.

verb (used with object), au·to·claved, au·to·clav·ing.

to place in an autoclave.

Nearby words

  1. autochthonous,
  2. autochthonous idea,
  3. autocidal,
  4. autocide,
  5. autoclasis,
  6. autocoid,
  7. autocollimation,
  8. autocollimator,
  9. autocomplete,
  10. autocorrect

Origin of autoclave

1875–80; < French, equivalent to auto- auto-1 + clave < Latin clāv-, stem of clāvis key and clāvus nail Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for autoclave

British Dictionary definitions for autoclave



a strong sealed vessel used for chemical reactions at high pressure
an apparatus for sterilizing objects (esp surgical instruments) or for cooking by means of steam under pressure
civil engineering a vessel in which freshly cast concrete or sand-lime bricks are cured very rapidly in high-pressure steam


(tr) to put in or subject to the action of an autoclave

Word Origin for autoclave

C19: from French auto- + -clave, from Latin clāvis key

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

Word Origin and History for autoclave



1880, from French, literally "self-locking," from auto- "self" (see auto-) + Latin clavis "key" (see slot (n.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for autoclave




A pressurized, steam-heated vessel used for sterilization.


To treat in an autoclave.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for autoclave



An airtight steel vessel used to heat substances and objects under very high pressures. Autoclaves are used in laboratory experiments and for sterilization.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.