a heavy vessel for conducting chemical reactions under high pressure.
Medicine/Medical, Bacteriology. an apparatus in which steam under pressure effects sterilization.
verb (used with object), autoclaved, autoclaving.
to place in an autoclave.

1875–80; < French, equivalent to auto- auto-1 + clave < Latin clāv-, stem of clāvis key and clāvus nail Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
autoclave (ˈɔːtəˌkleɪv)
1.  a strong sealed vessel used for chemical reactions at high pressure
2.  an apparatus for sterilizing objects (esp surgical instruments) or for cooking by means of steam under pressure
3.  civil engineering a vessel in which freshly cast concrete or sand-lime bricks are cured very rapidly in high-pressure steam
4.  (tr) to put in or subject to the action of an autoclave
[C19: from French auto- + -clave, from Latin clāvis key]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1880, from Fr., lit. "self-locking," from Gk. autos "self" + L. clavis "key" (see slot (2)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

autoclave au·to·clave (ô'tō-klāv')
A pressurized, steam-heated vessel used for sterilization. v. au·to·claved, au·to·clav·ing, au·to·claves
To treat in an autoclave.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
autoclave   (ô'tō-klāv')  Pronunciation Key 
An airtight steel vessel used to heat substances and objects under very high pressures. Autoclaves are used in laboratory experiments and for sterilization.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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