Definition of autoclave in US English:



  • A strong heated container used for chemical reactions and other processes using high pressures and temperatures, e.g. steam sterilization.

    • ‘This sterilization is considered effective to kill all the germs and viruses of the guy before you only when these instruments are subjected to pressurized and superheated steam in an autoclave pressure vessel, an expensive gadget.’
    • ‘An autoclave or pressure cooker operates on this principle.’
    • ‘Instruments and supplies that can't be sterilized with an autoclave should be disinfected with a commercial disinfectant or bleach solution after each use.’
    • ‘At page 4 it is pointed out that such a temperature will necessitate that the reaction is carried out in a closed system such as an autoclave.’
    • ‘Incineration, sterilizing by autoclave, or chemical means may be used according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.’
    • ‘Modern tequila production often uses large autoclaves to steam the agave pina instead.’
    • ‘The can is then heated in an autoclave, which allows the contents to be heated well above boiling point.’
    • ‘This technology works on the same principle as an autoclave, using steam for the heating of the material.’
    • ‘That included an autoclave for instrument sterilization, an X-ray machine for animal bone-structure assessment, and a vaporizer to accurately measure anesthesia drugs.’
    • ‘Last November, as the first barrel was baking in the autoclave oven, waiting engineers were clearly nervous.’
    • ‘The autoclave machines which sterilise instruments do not work - nothing is sterile, but nobody seems to have detected this.’
    • ‘In the future, lab technicians will receive more information about the autoclave process to prevent the mistake from happening again.’
    • ‘Gravity displacement works on the principle that steam, being lighter than air in the autoclave, will displace the air downward and allow the steam and heat to reach optimum temperature and pressure.’
    • ‘For years we had used a pressure-cooker-type autoclave to sterilize obstetric packs, towels, gloves, flats, solutions, and all supplies that we did not wish to boil.’
    • ‘It now includes a lab, a small ultrasound machine and the beginnings of an emergency care center with a heart monitor, autoclave for sterilizing instruments and a suction machine for clearing airway blockage.’
    • ‘Are other instruments kept in an autoclave until needed?’
    • ‘All reusable materials, such as the needle bar and the tube, must be completely clean, put into special pouches and sterilized in the autoclave.’
    • ‘An autoclave (generating steam at high pressure) is used for the reusable instruments, like needle bars and tubes.’
    • ‘They tested their sample by steaming it in an autoclave - used to disinfect medical equipment.’
    • ‘In all cases the part must be subjected to a resin curing phase, normally in an autoclave.’


[with object]
  • Heat (something) in an autoclave.

    • ‘Efficacy of the treatment was ascertained by autoclaving samples of decoated seeds for 90-95% osmotic distention.’
    • ‘Some institutions require that waste materials be autoclaved before disposal; others dispose of their waste by incineration.’
    • ‘These devices typically can't be autoclaved, which may increase your risk of infection.’
    • ‘In some cases the stem segment and/or isolated bark was autoclaved to kill all living cells.’
    • ‘The source of the smell was autoclaved test tubes, which had been used to grow bacteria called Clostridium sporogenes.’
    • ‘The solution was autoclaved at 121 C for 15 minutes.’
    • ‘However, cooking and autoclaving apparently destroy the lupus-eliciting effects without decreasing the lipid-lowering properties found in the foods.’
    • ‘The aliquots were autoclaved, mixed well while hot, and poured into Petri dishes.’
    • ‘Deionized water, filters, utensils, and vessels used in preparing the washings were autoclaved prior to use.’
    • ‘All blocks were autoclaved prior to testing and placed in a 25-27°C chamber with transverse surfaces exposed to feeder strips.’
    • ‘The solutions and leaves were then autoclaved, and the electrolyte content was measured again.’
    • ‘Electrolyte leakage analysis was performed by conductivity of the bath solution before and after autoclaving.’
    • ‘Similarly, items such as filter paper were all sterilized by autoclaving.’
    • ‘The mixture is then autoclaved for 20 min at 122°C to dissolve the agar and sterilize the medium.’
    • ‘All implanted materials were autoclaved before surgery.’
    • ‘The HL30 and HL32 products withstand autoclaving.’
    • ‘Studies show that laparoscopic surgery using reusable instruments (eg, trocars, sheaths) and other equipment that is autoclaved and cleaned is significantly less expensive than using disposable instruments and equipment.’
    • ‘Our lab manager helpfully suggested we could use regular water and then autoclave it, except that the autoclaves in the building don't work yet.’
    clean, make pure, refine, cleanse, decontaminate
    View synonyms


Late 19th century: from French, from auto- ‘self’ + Latin clavus ‘nail’ or clavis ‘key’ (so named because it is self-fastening).