adulterate

1 of 2

verb

adul·​ter·​ate ə-ˈdəl-tə-ˌrāt How to pronounce adulterate (audio)
adulterated; adulterating

transitive verb

: to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or element
especially : to prepare for sale by replacing more valuable with less valuable or inert ingredients
He was in the same plight as the manufacturer who has to adulterate and misrepresent his product. If he does not, some one else will. Upton Sinclair
adulterator noun

adulterate

2 of 2

adjective

adul·​ter·​ate ə-ˈdəl-t(ə-)rət How to pronounce adulterate (audio)
1
: being adulterated : spurious
2
: tainted with adultery : adulterous
… that incestuous, that adulterate beast … William Shakespeare

Example Sentences

Verb The company is accused of adulterating its products with cheap additives. the company was fined for adulterating its “all beef” frankfurters with cereal Adjective the pharmacist was convicted of selling adulterate drugs in order to maximize profits caught red-handed in what he claimed was his first adulterate encounter
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Fentanyl can be used to adulterate meth sold on the street. Zachary B. Wolf, CNN, 1 Dec. 2021 Taking them off the placebo could adulterate trial data and compromise other companies’ vaccine trials if their volunteers drop out to get Pfizer’s vaccine. Rolfe Winkler, WSJ, 9 Dec. 2020 On Wednesday, forensic experts are expected to testify about the likely ingestion of certain drugs with date-rape effects by Habboub and Hayes, whose drink Banas is charged with adulterating in 2014, based on analysis of hair samples. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 25 Feb. 2020 First came soy milk, offered in cafeterias as an alternative with which the lactose-intolerant could adulterate their covfefe. Mary Norris, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2020 Of the drugs described as being potentially adulterated are skincare and Assured Brand products. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, 15 Nov. 2019 In the canon of infidelity drama, Harold Pinter’s Betrayal may hold the distinction of being the least … adulterated. Allison Adato, EW.com, 6 Sep. 2019 The new law says Maine would not consider edibles produced with recreational marijuana adulterated. Washington Post, 27 June 2019 Prosecutors charged 47-year-old Conrrado Cruz Perez of Minneapolis with adulterating a substance with bodily fluids. Fox News, 8 Mar. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adulterate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

borrowed from Latin adulterātus, past participle of adulterāre "to defile by adultery, commit adultery with, mix with another substance, pollute," from ad- ad- + -alterāre, verbal derivative of alter "second, other" — more at alter

Adjective

borrowed from Latin adulterātus — more at adulterate entry 1

First Known Use

Verb

circa 1526, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

circa 1509, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of adulterate was circa 1509

Dictionary Entries Near adulterate

Cite this Entry

“Adulterate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adulterate. Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

adulterate

verb

adul·​ter·​ate
ə-ˈdəl-tə-ˌrāt
adulterated; adulterating
: to make impure or weaker by adding an unnecessary or lower-grade substance
especially : to prepare for sale by using in whole or in part a substance that reduces value or strength
adulteration
ə-ˌdəl-tə-ˈrā-shən
noun
adulterator
ə-ˈdəl-tə-ˌrāt-ər
noun

Medical Definition

adulterate

transitive verb

adul·​ter·​ate ə-ˈdəl-tə-ˌrāt How to pronounce adulterate (audio)
adulterated; adulterating
: to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance
especially : to prepare for sale by replacing more valuable with less valuable or inert ingredients
adulterator noun

Legal Definition

adulterate

transitive verb

adul·​ter·​ate ə-ˈdəl-tə-ˌrāt How to pronounce adulterate (audio)
adulterated; adulterating
: to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or element
especially : to prepare for sale by omitting a valuable ingredient or by replacing more valuable ingredients with less valuable or inert and usually harmful ingredients or with ingredients different from those claimed

Note: Under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a device such as a piece of medical equipment that is defective in some way is considered adulterated.

adulteration noun
adulterator noun

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