[ aw-tuh-kleyv ]
/ ˈɔ təˌkleɪv /
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See synonyms for: autoclave / autoclaved / autoclaving on Thesaurus.com


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.



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Origin of autoclave

1875–80; <French, equivalent to auto-auto-1 + clave<Latin clāv-, stem of clāvis key and clāvus nail
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use autoclave in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for autoclave

/ (ˈɔːtəˌkleɪv) /


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

Medical definitions for autoclave

[ ôtō-klāv′ ]


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.

Scientific definitions for autoclave

[ ôtō-klāv′ ]

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.