[ ih-nok-yuh-leyt ]
/ 瑟藞n蓲k y蓹藢le瑟t /
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See synonyms for: inoculate / inoculated on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), in路oc路u路lat路ed, in路oc路u路lat路ing.
to implant (a disease agent or antigen) in a person, animal, or plant to produce a disease for study or to stimulate disease resistance.
to affect or treat (a person, animal, or plant) in this manner.
to introduce (microorganisms) into surroundings suited to their growth, as a culture medium.
to imbue (a person), as with ideas.
Metallurgy. to treat (molten metal) chemically to strengthen the microstructure.
verb (used without object), in路oc路u路lat路ed, in路oc路u路lat路ing.
to perform inoculation.
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Origin of inoculate

First recorded in 1400鈥50; late Middle English, from Latin inocul膩tus, past participle of inocul膩re 鈥渢o graft by budding, implant,鈥 equivalent to in- 鈥渋n鈥 + -ocul膩- (stem of -ocul膩re 鈥渢o graft,鈥 derivative of oculus 鈥渆ye, bud鈥) + -tus past participle suffix; see in-2


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2022


What鈥檚 the difference between inoculate, vaccinate, and immunize?

In the context of medicine, inoculate, vaccinate, and immunize are often used in overlapping ways, and for good reason鈥攖hey all involve introducing a substance (especially a vaccine) into a person鈥檚 body with the goal of preventing them from getting a particular disease.

Vaccinate is the most specific of the three terms, because it always involves introducing a vaccine, which usually consists of a small amount of a killed, weakened, or otherwise modified version of a disease (such as a virus or bacterium). While inoculate has other meanings outside the context of medicine, in modern healthcare it鈥檚 typically used interchangeably with vaccinate (though it鈥檚 used less commonly).

Immunize is slightly different鈥攊t means to provide immunity from a specific disease. While the goal of vaccinating someone is often to immunize them, not all vaccines provide permanent immunity. Some vaccines provide what amounts to long-term immunity, while others only lead to a temporary protection, after which the body 鈥渇orgets鈥 how to make certain antibodies. In these cases, a booster shot or dose is often required, consisting of a follow-up vaccination to boost or renew the protection gained from the earlier vaccination.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between inoculate, vaccinate, and immunize.

Quiz yourself on inoculate vs. vaccinate vs. immunize!

True or False?

Inoculate, vaccinate, and immunize can be correctly used in some overlapping ways.

How to use inoculate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for inoculate

/ (瑟藞n蓲kj蕣藢le瑟t) /

to introduce (the causative agent of a disease) into the body of (a person or animal), in order to induce immunity
(tr) to introduce (microorganisms, esp bacteria) into (a culture medium)
(tr) to cause to be influenced or imbued, as with ideas or opinions

Derived forms of inoculate

inoculation, nouninoculative, adjectiveinoculator, noun

Word Origin for inoculate

C15: from Latin inocul膩re to implant, from in- 虏 + oculus eye, bud
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for inoculate

[ 沫-n艔ky蓹-l膩t鈥 ]

To introduce a serum, a vaccine, or an antigenic substance into the body of a person or an animal, especially as a means to produce or boost immunity to a specific disease.
To implant microorganisms or infectious material into or on a culture medium.
To communicate a disease to a living organism by transferring its causative agent into the organism.

Other words from inoculate

in鈥cu鈥a鈥瞭ive adj.
The American Heritage庐 Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright 漏 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.