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

That's because the lids are flat, weigh little and could get sorted with recyclable paper and contaminate the stream. Author: David Goldstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Cities scramble to rewrite rules on recycling after China restricts ‘foreign garbage’," 3 July 2018 Postberg and his colleagues decided to look at data gathered during E ring flybys between 2004 and 2008, when the instrument was least contaminated by interplanetary dust from elsewhere in the solar system. National Geographic, "Right Stuff for Life Found on Small Saturn Moon," 27 June 2018 Concerns that the former city water system manager for a small southern Idaho town might have contaminated the water system before his death prompted water testing Thursday, according to a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Mayor feared water poisoning after death of fired worker but first test finds none | Idaho Statesman," 25 May 2018 The 40 surviving units — the ones Morgan helped save — were contaminated by smoke and asbestos and red-tagged. Lizzie Johnson, SFChronicle.com, "Regret haunts Wine Country fire hero: ‘I’ve never cried this much’," 13 July 2018 Legionnaires’ can sometimes contaminate smaller water supplies, as well. Zoe Greenberg, New York Times, "Legionnaires’ Disease Sickens 11 in Upper Manhattan," 12 July 2018 Or it could be contaminated by an employee preparing or packaging the food who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom. Amanda Macmillan, Health.com, "What Is Cyclospora? Parasite Linked to Del Monte Vegetables Has Sickened More Than 200," 10 July 2018 Disgust involves the thought that something is contaminating, unclean. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "Our summer of fear: A conversation with Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum," 9 July 2018 The other possible side effect of coating your driveway is contaminated run-off. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "The Internet-demanded, partially scientific testing of Ultra-Ever Dry (in HD!)," 4 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.

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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

20 Oct 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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