bio·​de·​grad·​able | \ ˌbī-(ˌ)ō-di-ˈgrā-də-bəl How to pronounce biodegradable (audio) \

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 How to pronounce biodegradability (audio) \ 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 How to pronounce biodegradation (audio) \ noun
biodegrade \ ˌbī-​(ˌ)ō-​di-​ˈgrād How to pronounce biodegrade (audio) \ 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 Since its launch in October 2019, Parade has been gaining serious traction for its bold hues, comfortable fabrics, biodegradable packaging, and body-positive representation. Sara Radin,, "Parade’s Newest Underwear Collection Is Silky Mesh," 4 Feb. 2020 Harmful chemicals, global transport of goods, and non-biodegradable packaging add to the environmental cost. CBS News, "Sustainability in the fashion industry a hard needle to thread," 27 Dec. 2019 For instance, a reef-safe sunscreen with biodegradable packaging would be labeled green. Olivia Fleming & Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Ultimate Guide to Clean Beauty," 12 Aug. 2019 The company currently sells single use plastic pet waste bags, and is looking into introducing a biodegradable replacement. Mary Kilpatrick, cleveland, "Plastic bags continue to reign, during Cuyahoga County ban’s grace period," 7 Jan. 2020 Today Glitter sells two kinds of biodegradable glitter -- Bioglitter Sparkle and Bioglitter Pure. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, "Most glitter is terrible for the planet. He's trying to change that," 18 Dec. 2019 The legislation will create new programs for domestic marine debris response, including a new Marine Debris Foundation, and a Genius Prize for research into ocean biodegradable packaging and debris cleanup., "A diver probing the deepest part of the ocean in search of exotic marine life last spring found an unexpectedly familiar sight – a plastic shopping bag and candy wrappers outside the submarine’s window, more than 35,000 feet below the ocean surface in the Marianas Trench.," 22 Nov. 2019 The working prototype contains 100 microneedles, which measure hundreds of micrometers in length and are made out of a biodegradable polymer. Claire Bugos, Smithsonian, "Will Microneedle Patches Be the Future of Birth Control?," 6 Nov. 2019 Bark’s biodegradable bags come in a cardboard box with 300 unscented, easy-to-tear bags. Popular Science, "Dog walking gear that transforms a regular stroll into proper ‘walkies’," 13 Jan. 2020

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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The first known use of biodegradable was in 1959

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Last Updated

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Biodegradable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for biodegradable


How to pronounce biodegradable (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of biodegradable

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


bio·​de·​grad·​able | \ ˌbī-ō-di-ˈgrā-də-bəl How to pronounce biodegradable (audio) \

Kids Definition of biodegradable

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


bio·​de·​grad·​able | \ -di-ˈgrād-ə-bəl How to pronounce biodegradable (audio) \

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 How to pronounce biodegradability (audio) \ noun, plural biodegradabilities
biodegradation \ -​ˌdeg-​rə-​ˈdā-​shən How to pronounce biodegradation (audio) \ noun
biodegrade \ -​di-​ˈgrād How to pronounce biodegrade (audio) \ 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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