verb (used with object), in·oc·u·lat·ed, in·oc·u·lat·ing.

  1. to implant (a disease agent or antigen) in a person, animal, or plant to produce a disease for study or to stimulate disease resistance.
  2. to affect or treat (a person, animal, or plant) in this manner.
  3. to introduce (microorganisms) into surroundings suited to their growth, as a culture medium.
  4. to imbue (a person), as with ideas.
  5. Metallurgy. to treat (molten metal) chemically to strengthen the microstructure.

verb (used without object), in·oc·u·lat·ed, in·oc·u·lat·ing.

  1. to perform inoculation.


  1. to introduce (the causative agent of a disease) into the body of (a person or animal), in order to induce immunity
  2. (tr) to introduce (microorganisms, esp bacteria) into (a culture medium)
  3. (tr) to cause to be influenced or imbued, as with ideas or opinions

mid-15c., “implant a bud into a plant,” from Latin inoculatus, past participle of inoculare “graft in, implant,” from in- “in” (see in- (2)) + oculus “bud,” originally “eye” (see eye (n.)). Meaning “implant germs of a disease to produce immunity” first recorded (in inoculation) 1714, originally in reference to smallpox. After 1799, often used in sense of “to vaccine inoculate.” Related: Inoculated; inoculating.


  1. To introduce a serum, a vaccine, or an antigenic substance into the body of a person or an animal, especially as a means to produce or boost immunity to a specific disease.
  2. To implant microorganisms or infectious material into or on a culture medium.
  3. To communicate a disease to a living organism by transferring its causative agent into the organism.
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