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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from contaminate

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for contaminate

Synonyms

befoul, defile, foul, poison, pollute, taint

Antonyms

decontaminate, purify

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Waste in landfills can also contaminate water if the landfills aren’t designed with leachate in mind. Teen Vogue, "Environmental Science Is Crucial to Combat Climate Change — So Why Isn't It a Mandatory Class?," 29 Apr. 2019 The most common way people get these tapeworms is by accidentally eating dirt, water, or food that’s been contaminated by infected dog poop, according to the CDC. Korin Miller, SELF, "This Woman’s ‘Electric Shock’ Leg Pain Was Caused By a Parasite in Her Back," 2 Aug. 2018 Today, the area is a hazardous site contaminated by rocket fuel materials that can cause cancer. Kellen Browning And Claire Morgan, sacbee, "Folsom site contaminated by jet fuel to be cleaned up, paving way for park and nearby housing," 25 June 2018 Gaza’s residents get only a few hours of electricity each day, and most drinking water is contaminated. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, "Gazans have survived years of war. Now depression is killing them.," 20 June 2018 In some cases, it can also be contaminated with asbestos. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "Johnson & Johnson accused of hiding the asbestos in its baby powder for decades," 14 Dec. 2018 To this day, crabs and fish from the river are too contaminated for human consumption. Gretchen Morgenson, WSJ, "Agent Orange’s Other Legacy—a $12 Billion Cleanup and a Fight Over Who Pays," 3 Dec. 2018 People usually get infected through contaminated food or water, causing a common bacterial infection called salmonellosis. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "How to Recognize Salmonella Symptoms If You've Eaten Contaminated Products," 24 July 2018 As water came into contact with the mine's minerals, it was contaminated. Alicia Acuna, Fox News, "Colorado town hopes to strike gold by converting abandoned mine into fresh water reservoir," 3 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of contaminate

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

History and Etymology for contaminate

Middle English, from Latin contaminatus, past participle of contaminare; akin to Latin contingere to have contact with — more at contingent

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contaminate

Listen to Our Podcast about contaminate

Statistics for contaminate

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contaminate

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for contaminate

contaminate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of contaminate

: to make (something) dangerous, dirty, or impure by adding something harmful or undesirable to it

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on contaminate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!