contaminate

verb
con·​tam·​i·​nate | \kən-ˈta-mə-ˌnāt \
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

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Other Words from contaminate

contaminative \kən-​ˈta-​mə-​ˌnā-​tiv \ adjective
contaminator \kən-​ˈta-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for contaminate

Synonyms

befoul, defile, foul, poison, pollute, taint

Antonyms

decontaminate, purify

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Demonstrations flared in Basra this month after thousands fell ill because the water supply was contaminated, and intensified last week after several protesters were killed. Isabel Coles And, WSJ, "Rising Violence in Basra Highlights U.S.-Iran Fight for Influence in Iraq," 9 Sep. 2018 In April, three people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ after the water supply at the Co-Op City complex in the Bronx was contaminated, and one person died. Zoe Greenberg, New York Times, "Legionnaires’ Disease Sickens 11 in Upper Manhattan," 12 July 2018 In addition, the city said ITM had contaminated the site and called in the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to inspect drums leaking oil, grease and diesel fuel and ordered ITM to clean it up. John Tuohy, Indianapolis Star, "Judge orders train museum out of Noblesville home by July 12," 29 June 2018 But early into the rover’s mission, researchers discovered that carbon-rich chemical reagents were leaking out of some of SAM’s components, potentially contaminating nearby samples. Adam Mann, Scientific American, "Curiosity Rover Uncovers Long-Sought Organic Materials on Martian Surface," 7 June 2018 Decades on, in the 1970s, the atoll’s food chain was still heavily contaminated and exposed some islanders who had returned to dangerous levels of Cesium-137. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "Shutting down North Korea’s test site is not as easy as it looks. Ask France, Britain and the U.S.," 24 May 2018 The Food and Drug Administration has been trying to discover exactly where and when the romaine involved in this latest outbreak was contaminated. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "It's probably safe to eat romaine lettuce again, CDC says," 17 May 2018 The licks were naturally contaminated with prions and used by free-ranging deer, livestock, and non-cervid wildlife species, according to the researchers. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "UW researchers verify chronic wasting disease prions at mineral lick sites," 2 May 2018 Alvarez blamed contaminated beef in Mexico for his positive test and vowed to plead his case before the commission. W.g. Ramirez, chicagotribune.com, "Canelo Alvarez suspended for 6 months for doping violations," 18 Apr. 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.

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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

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for contaminate

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

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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 \
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 \
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 \ adjective
contaminator \-​ˌnāt-​ər \ noun

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