[ kwawr-uhn-teen, kwor-, kwawr-uhn-teen, kwor- ]
See synonyms for: quarantinequarantined on Thesaurus.com

  1. a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.

  2. a period, originally 40 days, of detention or isolation imposed upon ships, persons, animals, or plants on arrival at a port or place, when suspected of carrying some infectious or contagious disease.

  1. a system of measures maintained by governmental authority at ports, frontiers, etc., for preventing the spread of disease.

  2. the branch of the governmental service concerned with such measures.

  3. a place or station at which such measures are carried out, as a special port or dock where ships are detained.

  4. the detention or isolation enforced.

  5. the place, especially a hospital, where people are detained.

  6. a period of 40 days.

  7. social, political, or economic isolation imposed as a punishment, as in ostracizing an individual or enforcing sanctions against a foreign state.

verb (used with object),quar·an·tined, quar·an·tin·ing.
  1. to put in or subject to quarantine.

  2. to exclude, detain, or isolate for political, social, or hygienic reasons.

Origin of quarantine

First recorded in 1600–10; from Italian quarantina, variant of quarantena, originally Upper Italian (Venetian): “period of forty days, group of forty,” derivative of quaranta “forty,” ultimately from Latin quadrāgintā

Other words from quarantine

  • quar·an·tin·a·ble, adjective
  • quar·an·tin·er, noun
  • pre·quar·an·tine, noun, verb (used with object), pre·quar·an·tined, pre·quar·an·tin·ing.
  • un·quar·an·tined, adjective

Words Nearby quarantine

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use quarantine in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for quarantine


/ (ˈkwɒrənˌtiːn) /

  1. a period of isolation or detention, esp of persons or animals arriving from abroad, to prevent the spread of disease, usually consisting of the maximum known incubation period of the suspected disease

  2. the place or area where such detention is enforced

  1. any period or state of enforced isolation

  1. to isolate in or as if in quarantine

  2. Australian to withhold (a portion of a welfare payment) from a person or group of people

Origin of quarantine

C17: from Italian quarantina period of forty days, from quaranta forty, from Latin quadrāgintā

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

Cultural definitions for quarantine


[ (kwawr-uhn-teen, kwahr-uhn-teen) ]

The isolation of people who either have a contagious disease or have been exposed to one, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease.

Notes for quarantine

The term is sometimes used politically to designate the political and economic isolation of a nation in retribution for unacceptable policies: “When Iraq invaded Kuwait, it was placed in quarantine by the nations of the world.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.