Antiseptics – Definition & Meaning

Antiseptics are a crucial part of modern medicine, helping to prevent the spread of infection and disease. They are used in a variety of settings, from hospitals and clinics to homes and workplaces. In this article, we will explore the definition and meaning of antiseptics, as well as their origins and associations.


Antiseptics are substances that are used to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They are typically applied to living tissue, such as skin or mucous membranes, to prevent infection or to disinfect surfaces and objects.


The use of antiseptics dates back to ancient times, when various substances were used to clean wounds and prevent infection. However, it was not until the late 19th century that antiseptics became widely used in medical settings, thanks to the pioneering work of figures like Joseph Lister and Louis Pasteur.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an antiseptic is “a substance that inhibits the growth or action of microorganisms especially in or on living tissue”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a substance that prevents infection by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms”.


Antiseptics are often associated with cleanliness, hygiene, and medical care. They are used in a wide range of settings, from hospitals and clinics to schools and homes. Some common antiseptics include alcohol, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, and chlorhexidine.


Synonyms for antiseptics include disinfectants, germicides, sanitizers, and bactericides.


Antonyms for antiseptics include contaminants, pathogens, and microbes.

The same root words

The word “antiseptic” is derived from the Greek words “anti” (meaning “against”) and “septikos” (meaning “putrefying”). Other words with the same root include “septicemia” (a serious bacterial infection) and “sepsis” (a potentially life-threatening condition caused by infection).

Example Sentences

  • The nurse applied an antiseptic to the wound to prevent infection.
  • The dentist used an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria in the patient’s mouth.
  • The janitor used a strong antiseptic to disinfect the bathroom.
  • Some people are allergic to certain antiseptics, so it’s important to check the label before using them.
  • The hospital has strict protocols for cleaning and disinfecting equipment, including the use of antiseptics.
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