any of a large group of chemical substances, as penicillin or streptomycin, produced by various microorganisms and fungi, having the capacity in dilute solutions to inhibit the growth of or to destroy bacteria and other microorganisms, used chiefly in the treatment of infectious diseases.
of or involving antibiotics.
Contemporary Examples

When I was 36 weeks pregnant, my nurse practitioner told me I had a urinary tract infection and prescribed an antibiotic.
Nurse Practitioners Playing Doctor More Often Daniela Drake May 26, 2013

Never deny a request for an antibiotic, an opioid pain medication, a scan, or an admission.
You Can’t Yelp Your Doctor Daniela Drake May 20, 2014

A New York institution—The Rockefeller University—was central to antibiotic research during the war years.
A City at War Jane Ciabattari July 25, 2010

As long-time readers know, I’m something of a fanatic on the subject of antibiotic resistance.
Worried About Incurable Tuberculosis? Stand By for Incurable Everything. Megan McArdle March 11, 2013

My generation is only the second to live its entire lifespan in the age of antibiotic miracles.
Worried About Incurable Tuberculosis? Stand By for Incurable Everything. Megan McArdle March 11, 2013

Eighty-one years later, the substance produced by the Penicillium notatum fungus is still in wide use as an antibiotic.
The 19 Biggest Medical Breakthroughs of the Decade Max Read December 2, 2009

A plague outbreak in Madagascar has killed 40 people so far, and due to antibiotic resistance, it could kill many more.
Bubonic Plague Is Back (but It Never Really Left) Kent Sepkowitz November 26, 2014

Reeve passed away after experiencing an adverse reaction to an antibiotic on Oct. 10, 2004.
Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve’s Epic Friendship and the Greatest Williams Story Ever Told Marlow Stern August 11, 2014

Historical Examples

The books started with the specifications for antibiotic growth equipment for colonies with problems in local bacteria.
Sand Doom William Fitzgerald Jenkins

But the discovery of what substance should be added to what antibiotic was largely one of trial and error.
Bolden’s Pets F. L. Wallace

any of various chemical substances, such as penicillin, streptomycin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline, produced by various microorganisms, esp fungi, or made synthetically and capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms, esp bacteria
of or relating to antibiotics

1894, “destructive to micro-organisms,” from French antibiotique (c.1889), from anti- “against” (see anti-) + biotique “of (microbial) life,” from Late Latin bioticus “of life” (see biotic). As a noun, first recorded 1941 in works of U.S. microbiologist Selman Waksman (1888-1973), discoverer of streptomycin. Earlier the adjective was used in a sense “not from living organisms” in debates over the origins of certain fossils.

antibiotic an·ti·bi·ot·ic (ān’tĭ-bī-ŏt’ĭk, ān’tī-)
A substance, such as penicillin or streptomycin, produced by or derived from certain fungi, bacteria, and other organisms, that can destroy or inhibit the growth of other microorganisms. adj.

Of or relating to antibiotics.

Of or relating to antibiosis.

Noun A substance, such as penicillin, that is capable of destroying or weakening certain microorganisms, especially bacteria or fungi, that cause infections or infectious diseases. Antibiotics are usually produced by or synthesized from other microorganisms, such as molds. They inhibit pathogens by interfering with essential intracellular processes, including the synthesis of bacterial proteins. Antibiotics do not kill viruses and are not effective in treating viral infections.


Relating to antibiotics.

Relating to antibiosis.

antibiotic [(an-ti-beye-ot-ik, an-teye-beye-ot-ik, an-ti-bee-ot-ik)]

A substance that destroys or inhibits the growth of microorganisms and is therefore used to treat some infections. One of the most familiar antibiotics is penicillin.

Note: Microorganisms that are initially treatable with antibiotics may evolve resistance as the more susceptible members of the population are killed off. (See resistance to antibiotics.)

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