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


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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 That helped revitalise gourmet culture and inner-city life (as well as irrigating a bizarre beard-revival). The Economist, "Schumpeter Farewell for now to a golden age of drinking," 23 May 2020 Gonzalez would irrigate fields for farmers (earning $5 a day and getting paid in silver dollars, paper money being viewed with suspicion) and dream about the storied fishing of the Montana that was beyond his reach. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "The Godfather of Montana’s Bighorn River," 28 Apr. 2020 Avoid dense plantings of roses, and irrigate at the base of the roses using soaker hoses, if feasible for you. Tim Johnson,, "Got black spot? Don’t despair, rose lovers. Here are the ways you can control it.," 19 July 2019 Where the water table lies too deep for trees’ roots to reach, a steady stream of river water from canals is needed to irrigate the budding forests. Ian James,, "How a trickle of water is breathing life into the parched Colorado River Delta," 19 Apr. 2020 This technique was used by indigenous cultures to irrigate their crops and is often used in commercial agriculture today. Christy Willhelmi, Sunset Magazine, "During Quarantine, Build This Super Simple Raised Bed to Maximize Your Garden— Safely," 8 Apr. 2020 But local farmers were some of the first white settlers to stake a claim to the Colorado, digging canals to irrigate their fields starting in 1901. Los Angeles Times, "As a dying Salton Sea spews harmful dust, Imperial Valley water wars heat up again," 23 Apr. 2020 The low-maintenance plantings are from Bosky Dell Natives nursery in West Linn, and the grounds are irrigated by water-saving sprinklers. oregonlive, "Restored Scandinavian midcentury modern in Southwest Portland showcases soothing spaces," 22 Mar. 2020 What is now Peru’s capital, located in a valley irrigated by three rivers fed from the Andes, housed human civilizations thousands of years before the Spanish arrived in 1535. Washington Post, "Peru gas workers unearth centuries of history in Lima’s soil," 18 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for irrigate

Time Traveler

The first known use of irrigate was in 1615

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Statistics for irrigate

Last Updated

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Irrigate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for irrigate


How to pronounce irrigate (audio)

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
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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