Definition of fomites in US English:


plural noun

  • Objects or materials which are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, and furniture.

    • ‘Many viral infections are spread chiefly by aerosol, rather than by fomites or personal contact.’
    • ‘Transmission is by person to person and fomites, such as bedding and clothing.’
    • ‘Moreover, they may contaminate fomites that can transmit the disease to persons who do not have direct contact with the animals.’
    • ‘Transmission of dermatophytes also can occur indirectly from fomites.’
    • ‘Transmission by virus-contaminated hands or fomites is less likely.’


Early 19th century: from Latin, plural of fomes, literally ‘touchwood, tinder’.