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[dis-in-fek-tuh nt] /ˌdɪs ɪnˈfɛk tənt/
any chemical agent used chiefly on inanimate objects to destroy or inhibit the growth of harmful organisms.
serving as a disinfectant.
1830-40; < French désinfectant, noun use of present participle of désinfecter, Middle French. See disinfect, -ant Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for disinfectant
  • They also act as a disinfectant, removing disease-ridden plants and harmful insects from a forest ecosystem.
  • He got a staph infection that brought him to the hospital, and anyone visiting his room had to scrub first with disinfectant.
  • Under the smell of baking, there's some disinfectant, some bleach.
  • It is said in politics that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
  • Emergency workers with fire hoses could be seen soaking wreckage with disinfectant.
  • Sunlight is the best disinfectant and the evidence speaks far louder than the lies.
  • The disinfectant bottles cannot be reused in the system.
  • Iodophor disinfectant-detergents are not appropriate for general application to environmental surfaces.
British Dictionary definitions for disinfectant


an agent that destroys or inhibits the activity of microorganisms that cause disease
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 disinfectant

1837, from French désinfectant (1816), noun use of present participle of désinfecter (see disinfect). From 1875 as an adjective.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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disinfectant in Medicine

disinfectant dis·in·fec·tant (dĭs'ĭn-fěk'tənt)
An agent, such as heat, radiation, or a chemical, that disinfects by destroying, neutralizing, or inhibiting the growth of disease-carrying microorganisms. adj.
Serving to disinfect.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for disinfectant

any substance, such as creosote or alcohol, applied to inanimate objects to kill microorganisms. Disinfectants and antiseptics are alike in that both are germicidal, but antiseptics are applied primarily to living tissue. The ideal disinfectant would rapidly destroy bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoans, would not corrode surgical instruments, and would not destroy or discolour materials on which it is used.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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