con·​tam·​i·​na·​tion | \ kən-ˌta-mə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce contamination (audio) \

Definition of contamination

1 : a process of contaminating : a state of being contaminated

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Examples of contamination in a Sentence

swimming in the lake is banned until the contamination is identified and neutralized
Recent Examples on the Web That way she isn't tempted to drink from standing water or freshwater streams, ponds, or rivers where contamination is likely. Jennifer Nelson, Southern Living, "How Much Water Should Your Dog Be Drinking?," 20 Feb. 2021 This takes time, and the slightest contamination can spoil a whole batch. Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, "Why We Can’t Make Vaccine Doses Any Faster," 19 Feb. 2021 Every interaction over the open vessel risks contamination. Joanna Steinhardt, Wired, "Hackers, Mason Jars, and the Psychedelic Science of DIY Shrooms," 12 Feb. 2021 The water contamination was also linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which is a severe form of pneumonia, around that time that killed 12 people. Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, "Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and top officials to be charged in Flint investigation: Report," 12 Jan. 2021 The group also has the backing of Dow, which is facing dozens of lawsuits on Long Island over the 1,4-dioxane contamination. Irene Plagianos, WSJ, "Dow Chemical Backs Effort to Use New York City’s Drinking Water on Long Island," 29 Dec. 2020 Lindstrom believed that the contamination with both N1 and N3 stemmed from the core lab, those familiar with the matter said. David Willman, Anchorage Daily News, "The CDC’s failed race to roll out a virus test," 26 Dec. 2020 But many homeowners were underpaid for their homes, and lead contamination persisted. Popular Science, "Oklahoma floods are poisoning tribal lands," 23 Dec. 2020 For sites where no polluter can be made to pay and the EPA lacks cleanup funds, the agency will need to design protections that shield the sites from wildfires as long as the contamination remains. NBC News, "Wildfires fueled by climate change threaten toxic Superfund sites," 23 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contamination.' 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 contamination

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for contamination

Middle English contaminacioun, borrowed from Latin contāminātiōn-, contāminātiō "defilement, pollution," from contāmināre "to defile, pollute" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at contaminate

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Time Traveler for contamination

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for contamination

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contamination.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for contamination


con·​tam·​i·​na·​tion | \ kən-ˌtam-ə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce contamination (audio) \

Medical Definition of contamination

1 : a process of contaminating : a state of being contaminated
2 : something that contaminates

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