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

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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

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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

Also, people should avoid swimming in areas that are contaminated with animal feces. Glenn Howatt, chicagotribune.com, "Swimming pools, hot tubs are more likely than lakes to make you sick, studies find," 11 July 2018 As with recycling in general, Mitchell said, that will take a lot of education for residents on what materials can be recycled and how to recycle them so the whole dumpster is not contaminated — which means those items likely couldn't be recycled. Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star, "Recycling rates to double for many Indianapolis Republic Services customers to $100 per year," 29 June 2018 Through investigation, researchers found that these pots were contaminated by fruit bats, who spread the virus through saliva and other bodily fluids. Daniel Fernandez, Smithsonian, "How Globalization Changed the Way We Fight Disease," 4 June 2018 At least 17 people were sickened and one person has died as a result of eating chicken that was possibly contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Salmonella outbreak linked to kosher chicken sickens 17, kills 1, CDC says," 29 Aug. 2018 Cyclosporiasis is caused by a microscopic parasite, known as cyclospora, found in food or water that has been contaminated with feces. Matthew Haag, New York Times, "McDonald’s Removes Salads Linked to Intestinal Parasite Outbreak in Midwest," 13 July 2018 Also, people should avoid swimming in areas that are contaminated with animal feces. Glenn Howatt, chicagotribune.com, "Swimming pools, hot tubs are more likely than lakes to make you sick, studies find," 11 July 2018 Also, people should avoid swimming in areas that are contaminated with animal feces. Glenn Howatt, ajc, "Swimming pools, hot tubs are more likely than lakes to make you sick, studies find," 9 July 2018 Remove any clothing that may have been contaminated Take your bathing suit off immediately after ocean exposure. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Sea lice reported on Florida beach," 27 June 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

10 Mar 2019

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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 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

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