General English


  • noun a substance which contains the germs of a disease, used to inoculate or vaccinate someone against it


  • noun a software utility used to check a system to see if any viruses are present, and remove any that are found


  • noun a substance which contains antigens to a disease or a weak form of a disease, used to protect people against it


  • noun a substance, containing the germs of a disease, which provides a person with immunity to that disease


  • noun a preparation containing weakened or dead microbes of the kind that cause a disease, administered to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against that disease

Origin & History of “vaccine”

Vaccine was adapted from Latin vaccīnus, which means literally ‘of a cow’ (it was a derivative of vacca ‘cow’, source of French vache). It was used by the British physician Edward Jenner at the end of the 18th century in the terms vaccine disease for ‘cowpox’, and hence vaccine inoculation for the technique he developed of preventing smallpox by injecting people with cowpox virus. The verb vaccinate was coined from it at the beginning of the 19th century, but vaccine itself was not used as a noun, meaning ‘inoculated material’, until the 1840s.