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  1. of or relating to health or the conditions affecting health, especially with reference to cleanliness, precautions against disease, etc.
  2. favorable to health; free from dirt, bacteria, etc.: a sanitary washroom.
  3. providing healthy cleanliness: a sanitary wrapper on all sandwiches.
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Origin of sanitary

1835–45; < Latin sānit(ās) health (see sanity) + -ary
Related formssan·i·tar·i·ly, adverbsan·i·tar·i·ness, nounpre·san·i·tar·y, adjective


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1, 2. clean, germ-free, unpolluted, antiseptic. Sanitary, hygienic agree in being concerned with health. Sanitary refers more especially to conditions affecting health or measures for guarding against infection or disease: to insure sanitary conditions in preparing food. Hygienic is applied to whatever concerns the care of the body and the promotion of health: to live in hygienic surroundings with plenty of fresh air. 2. healthy, salutary.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for sanitary


  1. of or relating to health and measures for the protection of health
  2. conducive to or promoting health; free from dirt, germs, etc; hygienic
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Derived Formssanitarily, adverbsanitariness, noun

Word Origin

C19: from French sanitaire, from Latin sānitās health
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 sanitary


1823, "pertaining to health," from French sanitaire (1812), from Latin sanitas "health," from sanus "healthy; sane" (see sane). In reference to menstrual pads, first attested 1881 (in sanitary towel).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sanitary in Medicine


  1. Of or relating to health.
  2. Free from elements, such as filth or pathogens, that endanger health; hygienic.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.