[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 decontamination

bath, purification, shower, lavation, cleansing

Examples from the Web for decontamination

Contemporary Examples of decontamination

Historical Examples of decontamination

  • He turned away and walked back to the decontamination chamber.

    The Bramble Bush

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • They passed through the decontamination shield and into the city.

    Tony and the Beetles

    Philip K. Dick

  • Decontamination squads with fire bombs were shown as they sought to cleanse Euclid Avenue of its infected dead.


    Robert Donald Locke

  • 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

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for decontamination



(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 decontamination



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

decontamination in Medicine




The removal or neutralization of a contaminating substance, such as poisonous gas or a radioactive material.
Related formsde′con•tami•nate (-nāt′) v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.