contaminate

verb
con·​tam·​i·​nate | \ kən-ˈta-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \
contaminated; contaminating

Definition of contaminate

transitive verb

1a : to soil, stain, corrupt, or infect by contact or association Bacteria contaminated the wound.
b : to make inferior or impure by admixture iron contaminated with phosphorus
2 : to make unfit for use by the introduction of unwholesome or undesirable elements water contaminated by sewage

Other Words from contaminate

contaminative \ kən-​ˈta-​mə-​ˌnā-​tiv How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \ adjective
contaminator \ kən-​ˈta-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for contaminate

Synonyms

Antonyms

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Choose the Right Synonym for contaminate

contaminate, taint, pollute, defile mean to make impure or unclean. contaminate implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source. water contaminated by industrial wastes taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination. tainted meat a politician's tainted reputation pollute, sometimes interchangeable with contaminate, distinctively may imply that the process which begins with contamination is complete and that what was pure or clean has been made foul, poisoned, or filthy. the polluted waters of the river defile implies befouling of what could or should have been kept clean and pure or held sacred and commonly suggests violation or desecration. defile a hero's memory with slanderous innuendo

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Contaminate, taint, pollute, and defile mean to make impure or unclean. Contaminate implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source (logically enough, it derives from the Latin word tangere, meaning "to touch"). Taint stresses a loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contact ("tainted meat"). Pollute, sometimes interchangeable with contaminate, may imply that the process which begins with contamination is complete and that what was pure or clean has been made foul, poisoned, or filthy ("the polluted waters of the river"). Defile implies befouling of what could or should have been kept clean and pure or held sacred, and commonly suggests violation or desecration ("vandals defiled the mausoleum").

Examples of contaminate in a Sentence

Be careful not to allow bacteria to contaminate the wound. Don't touch the microchip or the oil on your hands will contaminate it. Make sure the white paint is not contaminated by any of the other colors.
Recent Examples on the Web There is evidence that waste from uranium mining can contaminate the aquifer and streams that flow into the Colorado River. The Editors, Outside Online, 14 Apr. 2015 The other was that ashy sludge could contaminate the water itself. Ella Nilsen, CNN, 3 Sep. 2022 For months, residents on the doorstep of the site have voicedconcerns that the plant could contaminate well water, produce light pollution, and disturb wildlife. Drew Kann, ajc, 18 Aug. 2022 Adding to the challenge faced by Talon — and mine developers across America — are concerns from tribal communities that the projects will contaminate pristine lands. Evan Halper, Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2022 Water pollution occurs when harmful substances such as chemicals or microorganisms contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer or any other body of water, degrading its quality and rendering it toxic to humans and the environment. Quartz, 19 July 2022 Many are already winding up in landfills, where components that contain toxic heavy metals such as selenium and cadmium can contaminate groundwater. Rachel Kisela, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2022 It has been opposed by environmentalists and tribes, particularly the Havasupai Tribe, some of whose members live in a side canyon of the Grand Canyon and have long feared that mining would contaminate their sole source of water. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, 28 Apr. 2022 These items can cause jams in the balers and contaminate whole batches of plastic. Kristin Hostetter, Outside Online, 14 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contaminate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of contaminate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contaminate

Middle English contaminaten, borrowed from Latin contāminātus, past participle of contāmināre "to defile, pollute," from con- con- + -tāmināre, verbal derivative of *tāmen "touching, contact," going back to *tāg-(s)men, from tag-, variant stem of tangere "to touch" + *-(s)men, noun suffix of result — more at tangent entry 2

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The first known use of contaminate was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contaminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contaminate. Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for contaminate

contaminate

verb
con·​tam·​i·​nate | \ kən-ˈta-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \
contaminated; contaminating

Kids Definition of contaminate

1 : to soil, stain, or infect by contact or association The wound was contaminated by bacteria.
2 : to make unfit for use by adding something harmful or unpleasant The water is contaminated with chemicals.

contaminate

transitive verb
con·​tam·​i·​nate | \ kən-ˈtam-ə-ˌnāt How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \
contaminated; contaminating

Medical Definition of contaminate

1 : to soil, stain, or infect by contact or association bacteria contaminated the wound
2 : to make unfit for use by the introduction of unwholesome or undesirable elements water contaminated by sewage

Other Words from contaminate

contaminative \ -​ˌnāt-​iv How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \ adjective
contaminator \ -​ˌnāt-​ər How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on contaminate

Nglish: Translation of contaminate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contaminate for Arabic Speakers

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