1894, "destructive to micro-organisms," from French antibiotique (c.1889), from anti- "against" (see anti-) + biotique "of (microbial) life," from Late Latin bioticus "of life" (see biotic). As a noun, first recorded 1941 in works of U.S. microbiologist Selman Waksman (1888-1973), discoverer of streptomycin. Earlier the adjective was used in a sense "not from living organisms" in debates over the origins of certain fossils.
antibiotic an·ti·bi·ot·ic (ān'tĭ-bī-ŏt'ĭk, ān'tī-)
A substance, such as penicillin or streptomycin, produced by or derived from certain fungi, bacteria, and other organisms, that can destroy or inhibit the growth of other microorganisms. adj.
Of or relating to antibiotics.
Of or relating to antibiosis.
Noun A substance, such as penicillin, that is capable of destroying or weakening certain microorganisms, especially bacteria or fungi, that cause infections or infectious diseases. Antibiotics are usually produced by or synthesized from other microorganisms, such as molds. They inhibit pathogens by interfering with essential intracellular processes, including the synthesis of bacterial proteins. Antibiotics do not kill viruses and are not effective in treating viral infections.
Note: Microorganisms that are initially treatable with antibiotics may evolve resistance as the more susceptible members of the population are killed off. (See resistance to antibiotics.)