eu·​tro·​phi·​ca·​tion | \ yü-ˌtrō-fə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce eutrophication (audio) , ˌyü-trə-fə- \

Definition of eutrophication

: 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

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 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 But studies have shown that eutrophication reduces the abundance of Atlantic croaker and affects the price of shrimp; both are important commercial species. Sarah Kaplan, Twin Cities, 11 June 2019 The decay process of algae uses up the oxygen in a process called eutrophication, Levin said. Sydney Pereira, Newsweek, 5 Jan. 2018 If the phytoplankton blooms are too large, this can lead to eutrophication, when oxygen is lost from the water and kills marine life. Elizabeth Howell Contributor, Fox News, 15 June 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eutrophication.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of eutrophication

1946, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About eutrophication

Time Traveler for eutrophication

Time Traveler

The first known use of eutrophication was in 1946

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near eutrophication




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for eutrophication

Last Updated

6 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Eutrophication.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on eutrophication Encyclopedia article about eutrophication

Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!