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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A period of time during which a vehicle, person, or material suspected of carrying a contagious disease is detained at a port of entry under enforced isolation to prevent disease from entering a country.
  • n. A place for such detention.
  • n. Enforced isolation or restriction of free movement imposed to prevent the spread of contagious disease.
  • n. A condition of enforced isolation.
  • n. A period of 40 days.
  • transitive v. To isolate in or as if in quarantine.
  • transitive v. To isolate politically or economically.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A desert in which Christ fasted for 40 days according to the Bible
  • n. A grace period of 40 days during which a widow has the right to remain in her dead husband's home, regardless of the inheritance
  • n. A sanitary measure to prevent the spread of a contagious plague by isolating those believed to be infected.
  • n. Such official detention of a ship at or off port due to suspicion that it may be carrying a contagious disease aboard.
  • n. A certain place for isolating persons suspected of suffering from a contagious disease.
  • n. A certain period of time during which a person is isolated to determine whether they've been infected with a contagious disease.
  • n. Any rigorous measure of isolation, regardless of the reason.
  • n. A record system kept by port health authorities in order to monitor and prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
  • n. A place where email messages or other files which are suspected of harboring a virus are stored.
  • v. To retain in obligatory isolation or separation, as a sanitary measure to prevent the spread of contagious disease.
  • v. To put in isolation as if by quarantine

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A space of forty days; -- used of Lent.
  • n. Specifically, the term, originally of forty days, during which a ship arriving in port, and suspected of being infected a malignant contagious disease, is obliged to forbear all intercourse with the shore; hence, such restraint or inhibition of intercourse; also, the place where infected or prohibited vessels are stationed.
  • n. The period of forty days during which the widow had the privilege of remaining in the mansion house of which her husband died seized.
  • transitive v. To compel to remain at a distance, or in a given place, without intercourse, when suspected of having contagious disease; to put under, or in, quarantine.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Aperiod of forty days.
  • n. A term, originally of forty days, but now of varying length according to the exigencies of the case, during which a ship arriving in port and known or suspected to be infected with a malignant contagious disease is obliged to for-bear all intercourse with the place where she arrives.
  • n. The enforced isolation of individuals and certain objects coming, whether by sea or by land, from a place where dangerous communicable disease is presumably or actually present, with a view to limiting the spread of the malady.
  • n. Hence, by extension: The isolation of any person suffering or convalescing from acute contagious disease.
  • n. The isolation of a dwelling or of a town or district in which a contagious disease exists.
  • n. A place or station where quarantine is enforced.
  • n. The restriction within limits awarded to naval cadets as a punishment.
  • To put under quarantine, in any sense of that word.
  • Figuratively, to isolate, as by authority.

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

  • n. isolation to prevent the spread of infectious disease
  • n. enforced isolation of patients suffering from a contagious disease in order to prevent the spread of disease
  • v. place into enforced isolation, as for medical reasons


Italian quarantina, from quaranta (giorni), forty (days), from Latin quadrāgintā; see kwetwer- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Directly from Latin quadraginta ("forty") (Wiktionary)
From Italian quarantina ("forty"), from quarantina giorni ("forty days"), the period Venetians customarily kept ships from plague-ridden countries waiting for off port), from quaranta ("forty"), from Latin quadraginta ("forty") (Wiktionary)


  • Anything in quarantine is safely segregated from the rest of your computer, it cannot run from there, so it can do no harm.

    Archive 2008-06-01

  • The people of Waterford would have to pray that the word quarantine would be interpreted to their advantage, and that all who read the sign would assume that the sickness was worse within the town than without.

    The Quilter's Legacy

  • In my view, establishing what he called a quarantine, what the world thought of as a blockade, and preventing if you will the Soviet Union from placing nuclear missiles in Cuba, that was certainly self-defense, it was certainly anticipatory self - defense, it was certainly preventative, and we were very close to a crisis of historic proportions.

    CNN Transcript Sep 26, 2002

  • The whole Lager was placed in quarantine and so completely isolated that not even letters got through.

    History of Stalag XVIII A

  • A group of U.S. students touring China are gaining an experience they had not expected - a second round in quarantine following a positive test of the H1N1 flu virus, a chaperone for the group said.

    POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: July 28, 2009

  • The average wait on Ellis Island was about two to five hours, but for those health inspectors held back, the island became “The Island of Tears” or “Heartbreak Island,” with many spending months in quarantine or held in the detention quarters before the immigration officials rejected their application for entry and deported them back to their homeland.

    Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free: Ellis Island | Edwardian Promenade

  • Influenza has an incubation period, and even our own people are in quarantine, so what makes you so special?!

    Global Voices in English » China: Quarantining all Mexicans

  • Monitoring the health status of arriving expatriate employees and putting them in quarantine if they are found to be infected.

    Global Voices in English » Omani Bloggers Swine Flu Campaign

  • “We put their (cable) modem in quarantine until we can talk to the customer,” Schmitt said.

    Austin Bandwidth Hog Claims Time Warner Cut Him Off

  • What "we" should do is put those patients in quarantine, and allow them to die (note that I've tweaked the analogy to allow many patients, vs. the singular patient that Professor Walden described: we're not all dying, it's the infected ones that are).

    Each, All, and the Bailout


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  • isolation
    to prevent the spread of infectious
    disease enforced
    of patients suffering from a contagious disease in
    order to prevent the spread of
    disease place into enforced
    as for medical reasons

    May 12, 2012

  • Do people still die seized these days? Of mansion houses? Sounds like quite a way to go, if you're a gothic eccentric or something like that.

    May 12, 2012

  • "The period of forty days during which the widow had the privilege of remaining in the mansion house of which her husband died seized." --GNU Webster's 1913

    May 12, 2012

  • "Quarantine had been a regular measure ... most widely used beginning with the bubonic plague in fourteenth-century Venice.... Vessels and their cargo were initially intended to spend thirty days—trentina—in the harbor, but that later changed to forty days—quarantina."
    —Molly Caldwell Crosby, The American Plague (New York: Berkeley Books, 2006), 40

    October 5, 2008