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January 24, 2012

Word of the Day

  • contaminate
  • audio pronunciation
  • \kun-TAM-uh-nayt\
  • DEFINITION

verb

1
a : to soil, stain, corrupt, or infect by contact or association b : to make inferior or impure by admixture
2
: to make unfit for use by the introduction of unwholesome or undesirable elements
  • EXAMPLES

Lucy ended up with a serious infection when her wound became contaminated by bacteria.

"Indian meal moths are the most common type of pantry pests, and with the female moth laying up to 200 eggs per week, they can quickly contaminate the entire pantry." -- From an article by Arrow Exterminators in Business Wire, November 17, 2011

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Contaminate," "taint," "pollute," and "defile" mean to make impure or unclean. "Contaminate" implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source (logically enough, as it derives from a Latin word that is a cousin to "contingere," meaning "to have contact with"). "Taint" stresses a loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contact ("tainted meat"). "Pollute," sometimes interchangeable with "contaminate," 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 slander").

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "calaboose," our Word of the Day from January 6? The answer is ...

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