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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 Starbucks has pointed out that straws won’t actually be eliminated—its stores will still have paper or biodegradable straws available for those who need them. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "Critics of Starbucks’ Straw Ban Are Missing the Point," 12 July 2018 Popular alternatives for plastic straws include options made from biodegradable paper and metal, the latter of which are typically reusable once cleaned. Gina Martinez, Time, "'Disabled People Are Not Part of the Conversation.' Advocates Speak Out Against Plastic Straw Bans," 12 July 2018 The nontoxic biodegradable formula is made from plants and never tested on animals. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Can this eco-friendly body glitter change music festival culture?," 12 July 2018 In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for Burger King said that the brand would begin its rollout of biodegradable straws in the U.K. this September. NBC News, "After Starbucks, which company will next ban plastic straws?," 9 July 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.

See More

First Known Use of biodegradable

1959, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about biodegradable

Share biodegradable

Statistics for biodegradable

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for biodegradable

The first known use of biodegradable was in 1959

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

to make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!