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

Other Words from biodegradable

biodegradability \ ˌbī-​(ˌ)ō-​di-​ˌgrā-​də-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce biodegradable (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 biodegradable (audio) \ noun
biodegrade \ ˌbī-​(ˌ)ō-​di-​ˈgrād How to pronounce biodegradable (audio) \ verb

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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 The biodegradable formula uses the power of citrus oils to cut through grease. Carolyn Forté, Good Housekeeping, 17 May 2022 Bamboo stem extract in this formula acts as a biodegradable physical exfoliant while glycolic acid acts as a chemical exfoliant that dissolves dead and dry skin while also enhancing skin cell turnover, resulting in bright, smooth, rejuvenated skin. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 May 2022 Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a biodegradable coating that gives paper bags the waterproof qualities of plastic bags without sacrificing flexibility. Alex Knapp, Forbes, 14 May 2022 His Manduka Eko Lite yoga mat ($65) is PVC-free and made from biodegradable natural tree rubber. Jen Murphy, WSJ, 14 May 2022 They're designed with extra-soft, biodegradable material; a drawstring waist; and tapered legs. Hillary Maglin, Travel + Leisure, 13 May 2022 For example, in mid-April, more than 120 guests on the Octantis gathered in the rain at 7 a.m. to watch the release of a biodegradable weather balloon. Washington Post, 5 May 2022 Danimer Scientific is working with candy companies to make biodegradable wrappers out of plant oils. Michelle Mcmurry-heath, Fortune, 2 May 2022 Beyond the brand’s environmentally conscious packaging and biodegradable heel, Linton plants a tree for every purchase made. Vogue, 28 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Biodegradable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for biodegradable


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 biodegradable (audio) \ noun, plural biodegradabilities
biodegradation \ -​ˌdeg-​rə-​ˈdā-​shən How to pronounce biodegradable (audio) \ noun
biodegrade \ -​di-​ˈgrād How to pronounce biodegradable (audio) \ verb biodegraded; biodegrading

More from Merriam-Webster on biodegradable

Nglish: Translation of biodegradable for Spanish Speakers


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