ir·​ri·​gate | \ ˈir-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce irrigate (audio) \
irrigated; irrigating

Definition of irrigate

transitive verb

1 : wet, moisten: such as
a : to supply (land, crops, etc.) with water by artificial means irrigating the cotton plants irrigates 20 acres of farmland
b : to flush (a body part) with a stream of liquid irrigate the wound with saline solution the eye was irrigated following chemical exposure
2 : to refresh as if by watering

intransitive verb

: to practice irrigation A tensiometer (soil moisture probe), available at any garden center, helps take the guesswork out of irrigating.The Benicia (California) Herald

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Other Words from irrigate

irrigator \ ˈir-​ə-​ˌgā-​tər How to pronounce irrigator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for irrigate


flush, rinse, sluice, wash, wash out

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Examples of irrigate in a Sentence

The surgeon irrigated the wound. if you get the chemical in your eye, irrigate the eye thoroughly with water

Recent Examples on the Web

The river levels are expected to rise again as summer approaches and the dam releases to irrigate crops in and around Eagle Pass and to provide electricity for the town. New York Times, "Death on the Rio Grande: A Look at a Perilous Migrant Route," 8 June 2019 Several foodborne illness outbreaks have been tied to pathogens in the water used to irrigate crops. Jesse Newman, WSJ, "Regulators Tie Tainted Romaine Lettuce to California," 26 Nov. 2018 Ian Cornell, a spokesman for the project, said the area's parks and street landscaping will be irrigated with recycled water. Ryan Sabalow, Dale Kasler And Tony Bizjak, sacbee, "They are building 11,000 new homes in Folsom. But will there be enough water?," 18 June 2018 The Hoover Dam's first goal was always to help irrigate farmland, with hydroelectricity as a secondary concern to help pay for the project, which was eventually paid off in 1987. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Hoover Dam Changed America—And It Might Do It Again," 27 July 2018 Edible plants may be irrigated any day as needed, under Sacramento’s new water restrictions. Debbie Arrington, sacbee, "Here's why new gardeners should get 'training wheels' and skip the beefsteaks | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Mar. 2018 To support so many large cities, the Maya would have had to modify the landscape in more drastic ways than just clearing some trees; irrigating fields or draining wetlands would be essential. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "What 61,000 hidden structures reveal about Maya civilization," 28 Sep. 2018 Opium poppies must be irrigated, well-fertilized, must get regular applications of pesticides. Mark Stevenson, Fox News, "Mexico opium poppy growers see price drop, turn to marijuana," 22 June 2018 Mormon pioneers later used the canals to irrigate their crops in the desert. Sonja Haller, azcentral, "Ultimate Arizona bucket list: 25 things to do in Mesa," 18 Feb. 2015

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

1615, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for irrigate

Latin irrigatus, past participle of irrigare, from in- + rigare to water; perhaps akin to Old High German regan rain — more at rain

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Statistics for irrigate

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for irrigate

The first known use of irrigate was in 1615

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English Language Learners Definition of irrigate

: to supply (something, such as land) with water by using artificial means (such as pipes)
medical : to clean (a wound or a part of the body) with flowing liquid (such as water)


ir·​ri·​gate | \ ˈir-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce irrigate (audio) \
irrigated; irrigating

Kids Definition of irrigate

1 : to supply (as land) with water by artificial means irrigate crops
2 : to clean with a flow of liquid irrigate a wound


transitive verb
ir·​ri·​gate | \ ˈir-ə-ˌgāt How to pronounce irrigate (audio) \
irrigated; irrigating

Medical Definition of irrigate

: to flush (a body part) with a stream of liquid irrigate the wound with saline to remove debris the eye was irrigated for 10 minutes following chemical exposure

Other Words from irrigate

irrigation \ ˌir-​ə-​ˈgā-​shən How to pronounce irrigation (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on irrigate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with irrigate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for irrigate

Spanish Central: Translation of irrigate

Nglish: Translation of irrigate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of irrigate for Arabic Speakers

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