Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

pollute

play
verb pol·lute \pə-ˈlüt\

Simple Definition of pollute

  • : to make (land, water, air, etc.) dirty and not safe or suitable to use

Full Definition of pollute

pol·lut·edpol·lut·ing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to make ceremonially or morally impure :  defile b :  debase 1 <using language to deceive or mislead pollutes language — Linda C. Lederman>

  3. 2 a :  to make physically impure or unclean :  befoul, dirty b :  to contaminate (an environment) especially with man-made waste

pol·lut·er noun
pol·lut·ive play \-ˈlü-tiv\ adjective

Examples of pollute

  1. Miles of beaches were polluted by the oil spill.

  2. Car exhaust pollutes the air.



Origin of pollute

Middle English, from Latin pollutus, past participle of polluere, from por- (akin to Latin per through) + -luere (akin to Latin lutum mud, Greek lyma dirt, defilement) — more at for


First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of pollute

contaminate, taint, pollute, defile mean to make impure or unclean. contaminate implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source <water contaminated by industrial wastes>. taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination <tainted meat> <a politician's tainted reputation>. pollute, sometimes interchangeable with contaminate, distinctively may imply that the process which begins with contamination is complete and that what was pure or clean has been made foul, poisoned, or filthy <the polluted waters of the river>. defile implies befouling of what could or should have been kept clean and pure or held sacred and commonly suggests violation or desecration <defile a hero's memory with slanderous innuendo>.

POLLUTE Defined for Kids

pollute

play
verb pol·lute \pə-ˈlüt\

Definition of pollute

pol·lut·edpol·lut·ing

  1. :  to spoil or make impure especially with waste made by humans <Factories pollute the stream.>

pol·lut·er noun



Medical Dictionary

pollute

play
transitive verb pol·lute \pə-ˈlüt\

Medical Definition of pollute

pol·lut·edpol·lut·ing

  1. 1:  to make physically impure or unclean

  2. 2:  to contaminate (an environment) especially with man-made waste

  3. pol·lut·er noun
    pol·lut·ive \-ˈlüt-iv\play adjective





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up pollute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

kittly-benders duvet pince-nez spindrift
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ