Antimicrobial Definition: Meaning & History

Antimicrobial Definition & Meaning

Antimicrobial definitions can vary widely depending on its use, function, production, regulation, benefits & more.

The antimicrobial meaning used by Microban® is defined by how we use antimicrobials. For us, the antimicrobial definition is the use of agents with properties that inhibit the growth of microbes for the purpose of materials production. This antimicrobial definition is specific to how we implement antimicrobial agents into products during manufacturing to produce antimicrobial products, or products that are imbued with the antimicrobial properties of the agents used in them.

From this use of the antimicrobial meaning, we are able to offer our partners product protection so the surfaces of those products will prevent or inhibit the growth and reproduction of microbes that could cause odors, stains, mold or mildew if left to reproduce.

However, according to Merriam Webster, the technical antimicrobial definition is "destroying or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and especially pathogenic microorganisms."

Many antimicrobials come from nature, including those found in plants, molds and essential oils. One of the earliest records of antimicrobial use occurred in ancient Egypt, where folks utilized several mold strains and botanical extracts to treat infections. Centuries later, modern era biologist Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin (image below), an extremely useful antibiotic used to treat a myriad of illnesses, including meningitis, pneumonia and gonorrhea. Antibiotics are just one type of antimicrobial.

What Is An Antimicrobial

Penicillium Notatum (Source: forces.si.edu) pictured above.

With today’s advancements in technology and medical science, scientists now design synthetic antimicrobial compounds in the laboratory for uses within and outside of the medical world. This expands society’s ability to reduce antimicrobial reproduction in many forms. It also changes the antimicrobial definition. Antimicrobial meaning is no longer exclusive to naturally occurring agents, but has expanded to include synthetic agents as well. From infectious illness or horticulture growth to product surfaces, antimicrobial applications have increased life expectancy rates, reduced crop loss and inhibited microorganism growth on product surfaces for improved cleanliness.

At Microban, our engineers design unique antimicrobial solutions formulated for specific product surfaces as well as their intended uses. For instance, workout clothing may require stronger protection against the stain and odor-causing microbes in sweat, while paints mixed for a bathroom or kitchen may demand accentuated mold protection due to consistent humidity. With state-of-the-art technology and an extremely talented engineering team, our company is able to wield antimicrobial design for maximized specificity.

To learn about other antimicrobial definitions and meanings or broaden your antimicrobial protection knowledge, visit our resources and FAQ pages or contact us today!


Microban antimicrobial product protection is limited to the product itself and is not designed to protect the users of these products from disease causing microorganisms, food borne illnesses, or as a substitute for normal cleaning and hygiene practices. Microban International, Ltd. makes neither direct nor implied health claims for the products containing Microban® antimicrobial product protection. The information presented in this blog post is solely for the purpose of providing general information regarding Microban International, Ltd.