Autoclave – Definition & Meaning

An autoclave is a device used for sterilization by subjecting materials to high-pressure steam. It is commonly used in medical facilities to sterilize surgical instruments and other medical equipment. The word “autoclave” has its roots in Greek, meaning “self-locking,” which is an accurate description of the device’s function.


An autoclave is a pressure chamber used for sterilizing equipment and supplies by subjecting them to high-pressure saturated steam. It is also used for curing materials, such as rubber and composites.


The word “autoclave” comes from the Greek words “auto” meaning self and “klao” meaning to shut. The device was first invented in the 19th century by French microbiologist Charles Chamberland, who was looking for a way to sterilize surgical instruments.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an autoclave is “a strong, sealed container used for heating substances under pressure to high temperatures, especially for sterilization.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “an apparatus in which special conditions (as high or low pressure or temperature) can be established for a variety of applications.”


The autoclave is most commonly associated with medical facilities and the sterilization of surgical instruments. However, it is also used in other industries, such as aerospace, where it is used to cure composite materials.


Some synonyms for autoclave include sterilizer, pressure chamber, and steam sterilizer.


There are no direct antonyms for autoclave, as it is a unique device with a specific function.

The same root words

The root words of autoclave, “auto” and “klao,” can be found in other words such as autograph (self-written) and claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces).

Example Sentences

  1. The surgical instruments were placed in the autoclave for sterilization.
  2. The composite material was cured in the autoclave at high pressure and temperature.
  3. The laboratory technician monitored the autoclave to ensure proper sterilization.
  4. The aerospace industry uses autoclaves to cure materials for use in aircraft.
  5. The autoclave is an essential tool for maintaining a sterile environment in medical facilities.
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