[ dee-kuh n-tam-uh-neyt ]
/ ˌdi kənˈtæm əˌneɪt /

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.

Nearby words

  1. decongestive,
  2. deconsecrate,
  3. deconstruct,
  4. deconstructed,
  5. deconstruction,
  6. decontamination,
  7. decontextualize,
  8. decontrol,
  9. decor,
  10. decorate

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

Examples from the Web for decontamination

British Dictionary definitions for decontamination


/ (ˌdiːkənˈtæmɪˌneɪt) /


(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

Medicine definitions for decontamination


[ dē′kən-tăm′ə-nāshən ]


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.