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 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 pump being biodegradable also means no surgery is required to remove it. James T. Norman,, 15 July 2021 Some 75% was biodegradable and could be turned into compost. David Vetter, Forbes, 27 May 2021 The Acoustic Felt is only one product in BAUX’s repertoire, having launched the Acoustic Pulp panel in 2019 which combines 100% biodegradable and 100% organic content for high sound absorption. Amy Nguyen, Forbes, 18 June 2021 Their jeans are biodegradable and specially designed to be recycled once they can no longer be worn. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, 29 Apr. 2021 Look for sponges made from recycled materials and dish soaps and detergents that are biodegradable and free of phosphates and other harmful materials that can threaten marine life. Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2021 As opposed to using non-sustainable plastic, AMEN is committed to their biodegradable and top shelf-worthy packaging made from mushroom roots. Tatjana Freund, Marie Claire, 22 Apr. 2021 Like the brand’s Keepers, the decals are made from biodegradable and plant-based materials. Nicole Saunders, NBC News, 2 Apr. 2021 The reusable sponge cloths absorb 15 times their weight, air dry quickly and are completely biodegradable. Brandon Schultz, Forbes, 18 May 2021

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

19 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Biodegradable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for biodegradable



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 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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