biodegradable

adjective
bio·​de·​grad·​able | \ˌbī-(ˌ)ō-di-ˈgrā-də-bəl \

Definition of biodegradable 

: capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things (such as microorganisms) biodegradable trash bags

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Other Words from biodegradable

biodegradability \ˌbī-​(ˌ)ō-​di-​ˌgrā-​də-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
biodegradable noun plural biodegradables
"… we would never discourage the development of technologies that promote recyclables or biodegradables. [=biodegradable materials]" — Ruth Lampi
biodegradation \ˌbī-​(ˌ)ō-​ˌde-​grə-​ˈdā-​shən \ noun
biodegrade \ˌbī-​(ˌ)ō-​di-​ˈgrād \ verb

Did You Know?

In biodegradable, with its root grad, "to step or move", and its prefix de- "downward", we get an adjective describing things that can be broken down into basic substances through normal environmental processes. Animal and plant products are normally biodegradable, but mineral substances such as metals, glass, and plastics usually are not. Newly developed biodegradable plastics are now appearing in numerous products. However, "biodegradable" products can vary greatly in how long they take to break down. A loaf of bread may require only a couple of weeks, and a piece of paper may vanish in a couple of months, but some "biodegradable" plastic milk cartons may take four or five years.

Examples of biodegradable in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Every step of the process takes place in a series of medical-grade, biodegradable plastic bags; pumps transfer the wine from bag to bag—no tanks, barrels, transfer or cleanup required. Aleksandra Crapanzano, WSJ, "The Winery That Fits in a Closet," 12 Oct. 2018 All told, the speakers are made from 80 percent biodegradable materials, an impressive feat in an industry known for creating large amounts of e-waste. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Hand-thrown clay speakers marry craftsmanship and sustainability," 29 Aug. 2018 The oil contained the building blocks of a biodegradable polymer. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Using a virus to kill what antibiotics can’t," 18 July 2018 American AirlinesStarting this month in its lounges, American will replace all plastic straws with biodegradable straws, swap plastic drink picks with wooden ones, and start offering eco-friendly flatware. Bridget Hallinan, Condé Nast Traveler, "All of the Travel Companies and Places Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics," 13 July 2018 The queenly allusions aren’t just a gimmick, the combs, which are made from zebu horn, a biodegradable material rich in keratin, are especially gentle on black hair. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Byredo’s New Keepsake Combs Pay Tribute to Africa’s Beloved Queens," 13 July 2018 Not all plastics made from biological sources are biodegradable. Eva Botkin-kowacki, The Christian Science Monitor, "Closing the loop on plastic recycling?," 5 July 2018 The company will replace plastic straws onboard planes with biodegradable alternatives. Erin Corbett, Fortune, "These 8 Companies Are Ditching Plastic Straws. Here’s How They Are Replacing Them," 11 July 2018 This biodegradable soap is made entirely from a host of USDA Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified ingredients. Blanca Myers, WIRED, "From Mats to Hoodies, 9 Ways to Elevate Your Yoga Practice," 24 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of biodegradable

1959, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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The first known use of biodegradable was in 1959

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More Definitions for biodegradable

biodegradable

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of biodegradable

: capable of being slowly destroyed and broken down into very small parts by natural processes, bacteria, etc.

biodegradable

adjective
bio·​de·​grad·​able | \ˌbī-ō-di-ˈgrā-də-bəl \

Kids Definition of biodegradable

: possible to break down into very small harmless parts by the action of living things (as bacteria)

biodegradable

adjective
bio·​de·​grad·​able | \-di-ˈgrād-ə-bəl \

Medical Definition of biodegradable 

: capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things (as microorganisms)

Other Words from biodegradable

biodegradability \-​ˌgrād-​ə-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē \ noun plural -ties
biodegradation \-​ˌdeg-​rə-​ˈdā-​shən \ noun
biodegrade \-​di-​ˈgrād \ verb biodegraded; biodegrading

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More from Merriam-Webster on biodegradable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with biodegradable

Spanish Central: Translation of biodegradable

Nglish: Translation of biodegradable for Spanish Speakers

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