1. a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.
  2. a period, originally 40 days, of detention or isolation imposed upon ships, persons, animals, or plants on arrival at a port or place, when suspected of carrying some infectious or contagious disease.
  3. a system of measures maintained by governmental authority at ports, frontiers, etc., for preventing the spread of disease.
  4. the branch of the governmental service concerned with such measures.
  5. a place or station at which such measures are carried out, as a special port or dock where ships are detained.
  6. the detention or isolation enforced.
  7. the place, especially a hospital, where people are detained.
  8. a period of 40 days.
  9. social, political, or economic isolation imposed as a punishment, as in ostracizing an individual or enforcing sanctions against a foreign state.

verb (used with object), quar·an·tined, quar·an·tin·ing.

  1. to put in or subject to quarantine.
  2. to exclude, detain, or isolate for political, social, or hygienic reasons.


  1. a period of isolation or detention, esp of persons or animals arriving from abroad, to prevent the spread of disease, usually consisting of the maximum known incubation period of the suspected disease
  2. the place or area where such detention is enforced
  3. any period or state of enforced isolation

verb (tr)

  1. to isolate in or as if in quarantine
  2. Australian to withhold (a portion of a welfare payment) from a person or group of people

n.1520s, “period of 40 days in which a widow has the right to remain in her dead husband’s house.” Earlier quarentyne (15c.), “desert in which Christ fasted for 40 days,” from Latin quadraginta “forty,” related to quattuor “four” (see four). Sense of “period a ship suspected of carrying disease is kept in isolation” is 1660s, from Italian quarantina giorni, literally “space of forty days,” from quaranta “forty,” from Latin quadraginta. So called from the Venetian custom of keeping ships from plague-stricken countries waiting off its port for 40 days (first enforced 1377) to assure that no latent cases were aboard. The extended sense of “any period of forced isolation” is from 1670s. v.1804, from quarantine (n.). Related: Quarantined; quarantining. n.

  1. A period of time during which a vehicle, person, or material suspected of carrying a contagious disease is detained at a port of entry under enforced isolation to prevent disease from entering a country.
  2. A place for such detention.
  3. Enforced isolation or restriction of free movement imposed to prevent the spread of contagious disease.
  4. A condition of enforced isolation.
  5. A period of 40 days.


  1. To isolate in or as if in quarantine.

The isolation of people who either have a contagious disease or have been exposed to one, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease.

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