Word of the Day – Formite

Word of the Day : December 6, 2021


noun FOH-myte

What It Means

fomite is an object (such as a dish, doorknob, or article of clothing) that may be contaminated with bacteria or viruses and serve in their transmission.

//Everyday objects that are smooth, like our phones and credit cards, can be fomites.

See the entry >


“Sneezing and coughing can spread germs onto surfaces either through the droplets released from the sneeze or cough itself or through germs from the sneeze or cough getting onto the hands, which then come into contact with fomites.” — Lois Zoppi, News Medical, 18 Feb. 2021

Did You Know?

“Disinfectant on your hands keeps us healthier and fomites no longer foment as much disease.” Australian newspaper contributor Peter Goers was likely going for alliteration when he paired up fomite and foment, a verb meaning “to promote the growth or development of”—but, whether he realized it or not, the words fomite and foment are related. Fomite is a back-formation of fomites, the Latin plural of fomes, itself a word for “tinder.” (Much like tinder is a catalyst of fire, a fomite can kindle disease.) Fomes is related to the Latin verb fovēre (“to heat”), an ancestor of foment.