[dee-kuh n-tam-uh-neyt]

verb (used with object), de·con·tam·i·nated, de·con·tam·i·nat·ing.

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 formsde·con·tam·i·na·tion, nounde·con·tam·i·na·tive, adjectivede·con·tam·i·na·tor, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for decontaminate

cleanse, disinfect, fumigate, sterilize, sanitize, wash, purify

Examples from the Web for decontaminate

Contemporary Examples of decontaminate

Historical Examples of decontaminate

  • They want our planets, and they didn't want to have to decontaminate them when they took them over.

    Shock Absorber

    E.G. von Wald

  • Nobody's had time to decontaminate this whole planet like they did Earth.

    Shock Absorber

    E.G. von Wald

  • A few essential manufactures had also been revived, mostly in the form of machine shops to decontaminate engine parts.

British Dictionary definitions for decontaminate



(tr) to render (an area, building, object, etc) harmless by the removal, distribution, or neutralization of poisons, radioactivity, etc
Derived Formsdecontaminant, noundecontamination, noundecontaminative, adjectivedecontaminator, 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

Word Origin and History for decontaminate

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper