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From Medieval Latin quarentena and quarentīna (40-day period, Lent) via Middle English quarentine, Norman quarenteine, French quarenteine, and Italian quarantina, via proposed Late Latin *quaranta + -ēna (forming distributive adjectives), from Latin quadrāgintā (four tens, 40). Doublet of carene and quadragene. In reference to French politics, a calque of French quarantaine after edicts of Louis IX and quarantaine du Roi after a 1704 edict by Louis XIV. In reference to a severance of political relations, originally and chiefly an American euphemism for "blockade" necessary to keep the action from becoming an act of war under international law, chiefly popularized by the Roosevelt administration's 1937 approach to the Axis powers and the Kennedy administration's 1962 approach to Cuba during the missile crisis there.



quarantine (plural quarantines)

  1. A period of 40 days, particularly
    • 1722, Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year, page 235:
      Now the Question seems to lye thus, where lay the Seeds of the Infection all this while? How came it to stop so long, and not stop any longer? Either the Distemper did not come immediately by Contagion from Body to Body, or if it did, then a Body may be capable to continue infected, without the Disease discovering itself, many Days, nay Weeks together, even not a Quarantine of Days only, but Soixantine, not only 40 Days but 60 Days or longer.
    1. (historical law) The 40-day period during which a widow is entitled to remain in her deceased husband's home while any dower is collected and returned.
    2. (historical) The 40-day period of isolation required after 1448 at Venice's lazaret to avoid renewed outbreaks of the bubonic plague and identical policies in other locations.
    3. (historical) A 40-day period formerly imposed by the French king upon warring nobles during which they were forbidden from exacting revenge or continuing to fight.
      • 1728, Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia, "Quarantaine":
        Quarantain of the King, is a Truce of forty Days appointed by S. Louis; during which it was expressly forbid to take any Revenge of the Relation or Friends of People.
      • 1818, Alexander Ranken, The History of France, volume IV, page 233:
        Forty days, called the King's quarantain, were allowed the friends or relations of a principal in a private war to grant or find security.
  2. A period, instance, or state of isolation from the general public or from native livestock and flora enacted to prevent the spread of any contagious disease.
    • 1649, Moderate Intelligencer, No. 236, p. 2279:
      From Toulon... Our Gallyes which were upon the point of finishing their Quarantaine, and entering into this Port, have been hindred from it by th'arrival of three others that were out a roaming.
    • 1663 Nov. 26, Samuel Pepys, Diary, Vol. IV, p. 399:
      Making of all ships coming from thence... to perform their Quarantine (for 30 days as Sir Richard Browne expressed it... contrary to the import of the word; though in the general acceptation, it signifies now the thing, not the time spent in doing it).
    • 1796, Edward Darwin, Zoonomia, volume II, page 265:
      This dreadful malady might be annihilated by making all the dogs in Great Britain perform a kind of quarantine, by shutting them up for a certain number of weeks.
    • 1831, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Romance and Reality. [], volume (please specify |volume=I to III), London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, pages 137–138:
      The lady stared; but a single question elicited the fatal truth—the vessel was under quarantine, and once on board there was no quitting it.
    • 1855 December – 1857 June, Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1857, →OCLC, book the first (Poverty), page 12:
      ‘... these people are always howling. Never happy otherwise... the French people. They’re always at it. As to Marseilles, we know what Marseilles is. It sent the most insurrectionary tune into the world that was ever composed. It couldn’t exist without allonging and marshonging to something or other—victory or death, or blazes, or something.’
      Allong and marshong, indeed. It would be more creditable to you, I think, to let other people allong and marshong about their lawful business, instead of shutting ‘em up in quarantine!’
      ‘Tiresome enough,’ said the other.
    • 1859, John Mounteney Jephson; et al, Narrative of a Walking Tour in Brittany, page 77:
      The lepers often sought a voluntary death as the only escape from their perpetual quarantine.
    • '1922, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 12th ed., Vol. XXX, p. 925:
      Formerly great stress was laid on the value of quarantine; all plant imports were grown in a quarantine ground under the supervision of a Government botanist until it was certain that they had no disease.
    • 2020 March 20, Keoni Everington, “Next 14 Days Are Critical for Taiwan's Wuhan Virus Battle: Tsai”, in Taiwan News[1]:
      2. Tsai called on the public not to incite hatred or blame others for the epidemic. She then offered thanks to everyone who has dutifully followed home quarantine and self-health management protocols.
    The tourists were put in quarantine to ensure none of them would be able to spread the plague.
  3. (figuratively) A similar period, instance, or state of rigidly enforced or self-enforced detention or isolation.
    • 1667, John Denham, The Second Advice to a Painter, pages 13-14:
      Now treating Sandwich seems the fittest choice
      For Spain, there to condole and to rejoyce:
      He meets the French, but to avoid all harms,
      Slips into Groine, Embassies bears no Arms.
      There let him languish a long Quarrentine,
      And ne're to England come, till he be clean.
    • 1816 Nov. 27, Lord Byron, Letter:
      What I wish to put under Quarantine are family events—& all allusion thereto past—present—or to come.
  4. A place where such isolation is enforced, a lazaret.
    • 1806 April, Reginald Heber, Journal:
      They bring wood, millet, rye, barley, and a little wheat to the quarantine to barter with the Cossaks for salt.
  5. (politics, figuratively) A blockade of trade, suspension of diplomatic relations, or other action whereby one country seeks to isolate another.
  6. (computing, figuratively) An isolation of one program, drive, computer, etc. from the rest of a computer network to limit the damage from a bug, computer virus, etc..
    • 1988 Mar. 21, InfoWorld:
      Also included is Canary, a ‘quarantine’ program for use as a sample to test for a virus by pairing it with new or suspect programs.
    • 1989 Feb. 2, American Banker, p. 8:
      At least one expert says... that a quarantine can be futile if the software is infected with a time-activated virus.
  7. (computing, figuratively) The program, drive, computer, etc. thus isolated.
    • 2004 Dec., .Net, No. 131, p. 71:
      If they click on the link then they're added to your approved senders list and their message is moved to your inbox; if they don't, the message stays in quarantine.



Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


quarantine (third-person singular simple present quarantines, present participle quarantining, simple past and past participle quarantined)

  1. (transitive) To place into isolation to prevent the spread of any contagious disease.
    • 1803 Feb. 17, Maryland Gazette, Letter:
      We... sent our boat on board a French man of war lying in the bay, with a letter for our consul; captain Murray not wishing to have any communication with the shore, for fear of being quarantined at the next port he went to.
    • 1866 July 26, The Times, p. 10:
      On sanitary grounds Morocco could certainly show better cause for placing a quarantine on Spain than Spain for quarantining Morocco.
    Venice began quarantining incoming ships for 40 days in 1448 to prevent further outbreaks of bubonic plague.
  2. (figuratively, transitive) Synonym of isolate more generally.
    • 1804 Dec. 20, Washington Irving, Letter:
      ...where I should be detained, Quarantined, smoaked & vinegard...
    • 1988 Jan. 31, Los Angeles Times, p. 1:
      No computer system or even individual PC is safe from a virus unless it is isolated—quarantined, in effect—from all others.
    J.F.K. "quarantined" Cuba rather than blockading it to avoid needless escalation of the conflict.
  3. (figuratively, transitive) Synonym of restrict.
    • 1850 July 27, Chamber's Edinburgh Journal, p. 49:
      Did any moral taint hang about me that quarantined my entrance into its circle?
    • c. 1912, E.H. Grubb & al., Potato, p. 479:
      The parliament of the island... quarantined Great Britain against sending any potatoes into the island.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To impose a quarantine, to establish quarantine regulations.
  5. (intransitive) To enter or stay in quarantine, particularly to self-quarantine to avoid an epidemic disease.
    • 1928 Aug. 7, Daily News, p. 7:
      The Mauretania... is expected to ‘quarantine’ at New York at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
    • 1995 May 12, Daily Oklahoman:
      She brought her dog home, and that's a big step. Dogs have to quarantine for six months in England.
    • 2020 April 10, The Guardian:
      Australians returning from overseas have been required to quarantine for 14 days since 15 March, with mandatory stays inside hotel rooms enforced since 29 March.
    International travelers must quarantine themselves at their own expense in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival.

Derived terms[edit]


Proper noun[edit]


  1. (Christainity, obsolete) Alternative letter-case form of Quarantine: the Mount of Temptation where Jesus Christ supposedly fasted for 40 days, Jebel Quruntul near Jericho.




quarantine f

  1. plural of quarantina