English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We have water that is not drinkable, we boil it for killing the microbes, is this sentence correct “I immunize the water ” or there is an idiom for this action?

share|improve this question
The word is sterilize. – Peter Shor Apr 15 '14 at 11:34
@PeterShor Also: disinfect. (Technically sterilization implies removal of all life-forms, which boiling doesn't achieve.) – msam Apr 15 '14 at 15:49
up vote 7 down vote accepted

When you boil it to kill the microbes, you are sterilizing the water through Sterilization.

Dictionary.com meaning:

ster·i·lize [ster-uh-lahyz]
verb (used with object),

ster·i·lized, ster·i·liz·ing.

  1. to destroy microorganisms in or on, usually by bringing to a high temperature with steam, dry heat, or boiling liquid.
  2. to destroy the ability of (a person or animal) to reproduce by removing the sex organs or inhibiting their functions.
  3. to make (land) barren or unproductive.
  4. Informal. to delete or remove anything comprising or damaging from: to sterilize a government document before releasing it to the press.
  5. Informal. to isolate or completely protect from unwanted, unauthorized, or unwholesome activities, attitudes, influences, etc.: You can't sterilize children against violence.
share|improve this answer

And by sterilizing you are making the water Potable.

fit or suitable for drinking: potable water.

share|improve this answer

The commonly used term for this is to "purify" the water; other options are: sanitize, disinfect or decontaminate.

share|improve this answer
Welcome to EL&U. As the help center indicates, the best answers provide detailed explanation, with suitable references and links. I would note, for example, that disinfect and decontaminate refer to two different ways to purify; they are not interchangeable. – choster Apr 15 '14 at 19:37

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.