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 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 Founder Kevin Kumala has developed a biodegradable plastic bag, food packaging, and straw made of cassava, a starchy root vegetable that can be turned into an alternative to plastic. Amanda Tazkia Siddharta, National Geographic, "Bali fights for its beautiful beaches by rethinking waste, plastic trash," 14 Oct. 2019 Non-profit environmental group For A Strawless Ocean advocated for the use of Aardvark biodegradable straws, which are said to decompose in 45-90 days. Gina Martinez, Time, "Starbucks Is Ditching Plastic Straws. Here Are 3 of the Most Common Alternatives," 9 July 2018 Because real trees are biodegradable, there are many ways in which they can be reused and recycled, including as bird and fish feeders or mulch. Joseph Neese, House Beautiful, "The Unique Way That Chip and Joanna Gaines Recycle Their Christmas Trees," 28 Dec. 2019 Capitalizing on mushrooms’ dual powers of aesthetic appeal and sustainability, designers like Jae Rhim Lee and Kristel Peters have transformed fungi into fashion—for instance, a biodegradable burial suit and a high-heeled shoe. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Get a Taste for Mushroom Art at This New, Fungus-Forward Exhibition," 28 Dec. 2019 Rexford has switched to biodegradable balloons and is usually hesitant to take those jobs on. Caroline Glenn,, "A balloon boutique, lamp shop and flag emporium: How do these Orlando landmarks stay in business?," 29 Nov. 2019 The ban, which takes effect July 1, 2020, is an effort to reduce the amount of non-biodegradable polystyrene materials that get into the state’s landfills and waterways. David Anderson,, "Guests get a ‘first-class meal,’ live entertainement at Havre de Grace community Thanksgiving," 28 Nov. 2019 In recent years, calls for climate change reform and for major corporations to engage in more sustainable business practices have created a niche market among young people who are interested in shoes that are more biodegradable. Chauncey Alcorn, CNN, "Vegan sneakers set to be next plant-based craze in 2020," 14 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for biodegradable

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The first known use of biodegradable was in 1959

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Biodegradable.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 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

Comments on biodegradable

What made you want to look up biodegradable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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