eu·​tro·​phi·​ca·​tion yü-ˌtrō-fə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce eutrophication (audio)
: the process by which a body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients (such as phosphates) that stimulate the growth of aquatic plant life usually resulting in the depletion of dissolved oxygen

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Eutrophication Has Greek Roots

Eutrophication, which comes from the Greek eutrophos, "well-nourished", has become a major environmental problem. Nitrates and phosphates, especially from lawn fertilizers, run off the land into rivers and lakes, promoting the growth of algae and other plant life, which take oxygen from the water, causing the death of fish and mollusks. Cow manure, agricultural fertilizer, detergents, and human waste are often to blame as well. In the 1960s and '70s, the eutrophication of Lake Erie advanced so extremely that it became known as the "dead lake". And many areas of the oceans worldwide—some more than 20,000 square miles in extent—have become "dead zones", where almost no life of any kind exists.

Examples of eutrophication in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Nitrates can also lead to eutrophication issues in bodies of water, including low oxygen levels, growth of algae and and waterways, Reible said. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 16 Mar. 2024 Rice has the lowest impact on land use, almond has the lowest impact on greenhouse emissions, and soy has the lowest impact on freshwater use and eutrophication, which is contamination of a body of water with nutrients that cause excessive plant and algae growth. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 15 Nov. 2022 What is eutrophication? Amin Mirkouei, Forbes, 28 June 2021 Climate change and eutrophication surely have something to do with it. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Discover Magazine, 11 Sep. 2019 This can lead to excessive waste concentrations that trigger environmental effects, Vinnerås said—things like dead zones in the oceans and eutrophication of lakes. Keely Larson, Ars Technica, 20 Aug. 2022 Low levels of oxygen (hypoxia) or no oxygen (anoxia) can occur when excess organic materials or nutrients enter water bodies (and result in occurrences such as eutrophication). Quartz, 19 July 2022 Meanwhile, an uptick in farming, industry, and urban development has fed eutrophication – an increase in biomass and algae that deoxygenates water and accelerates erosion. Kang-Chun Cheng, The Christian Science Monitor, 31 Aug. 2021 Some scientists estimate that nearly 30% of the Mediterranean’s Posidonia has already disappeared, due to damage from boat anchors, eutrophication (excessive accumulation of nutrients), and construction projects. Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Aug. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'eutrophication.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1946, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of eutrophication was in 1946

Dictionary Entries Near eutrophication

Cite this Entry

“Eutrophication.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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