9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[dee-kuh n-tam-uh-neyt] /ˌdi kənˈtæm əˌneɪt/
verb (used with object), decontaminated, decontaminating.
to make (an object or area) safe for unprotected personnel by removing, neutralizing, or destroying any harmful substance, as radioactive material or poisonous gas.
to make free of contamination; purify:
to decontaminate a sickroom.
Origin of decontaminate
1935-40; de- + contaminate
Related forms
decontamination, noun
decontaminative, adjective
decontaminator, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for decontaminate
  • Alcohol-based hand products decontaminate your hands only when they are already visibly clean.
  • Previous attempts to decontaminate buildings have been incomplete, or improperly done.
  • Others are installing and operating systems to decontaminate radioactive water.
  • Enzyme sprays could also be used in the food industry to decontaminate food, he says.
  • The team is also testing antiseptics that could be used to decontaminate caves in an attempt to stop the fungus's spread.
  • Employees who will decontaminate patients must be trained to identify when a hazardous substance is present.
  • The above procedure is designed to decontaminate a drain trap.
  • If you've recently used your boat in an infested lake or reservoir, you should decontaminate it immediately.
  • To decontaminate clothing, footwear and gear, please follow all relevant procedures listed below.
  • In some cases, a dilute solution of bleach will also be used to decontaminate you and/or your clothing.
British Dictionary definitions for decontaminate


(transitive) to render (an area, building, object, etc) harmless by the removal, distribution, or neutralization of poisons, radioactivity, etc
Derived Forms
decontaminant, noun
decontamination, noun
decontaminative, adjective
decontaminator, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for decontaminate

1936, from de- + contaminate. Originally in reference to poison gas. Related: Decontaminated; decontaminating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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