from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A substance, such as penicillin or erythromycin, produced by or derived from certain microorganisms, including fungi and bacteria, that can destroy or inhibit the growth of other microorganisms, especially bacteria. Antibiotics are widely used in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
  • adjective Of or relating to antibiotics.
  • adjective Of or relating to antibiosis.
  • adjective Destroying life or preventing the inception or continuance of life.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In biology, injurious or deadly to the living substance: as, an antibiotic secretion.
  • Opposed to a belief in the presence or possibility of life.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective of or pertaining to an antibiotic.
  • adjective having antimicrobial activity; capable of killing microbes.
  • noun A chemical substance derived from a mold or bacterium that kills microorganisms and cures infections.
  • noun any chemical substance having therapeutically useful antibacterial or antifungal activity; -- used commonly but loosely for synthetic as well as natural antimicrobial agents.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun pharmacology Any substance that can destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria and similar microorganisms.
  • adjective pharmacology Of or relating to antibiotics.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a chemical substance derivable from a mold or bacterium that can kill microorganisms and cure bacterial infections
  • adjective of or relating to antibiotic drugs


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French antibiotique, coined in 1889 by P. Vuillemin from anti- and biotique, from Ancient Greek βιωτικός (biōtikós, "concerning or relating to life") (from βίος (bíos, "life"), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷeih₃w- (“to live”)), perhaps influenced by ἀντίϐιος (antíbios, "opposed")



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  • I prefer -tee- for the second syllable of this word (and others beginning with the prefix anti-), and the evidence of my ears says this has been the dominant pronunciation in cultivated American speech for some time. The variant with short i as in fit (listen to the American Heritage Dictionary’s pronunciation) appears in older and some current dictionaries but is far from prevalent in American speech today. In fact, the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation (2003) says the short i is British and -tee- is American. The variant with a long i in the second syllable (like tie) appears in dictionaries but is an overpronunciation. (“Don’t bother with long i” in anti-, the orthoepist Alfred H. Holt advised in his 1937 guide You Don’t Say. “Just rhyme anti- with panty.”) Also avoid pronouncing the antepenultimate syllable -bi- like be; say it like by. — The Orthoepist

    December 1, 2010

  • Compare pronunciation of the second syllable here with that in antigen.

    December 1, 2010