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

Banking is on more solid footing, communications have improved and a steady flow of remittances irrigates the economy. Mac Margolis,, "New U.S. sanctions on Cuba have a silver lining," 20 Aug. 2019 The district now also offers recycled water to help residential customers irrigate during San Diego’s warm season to reduce the use of potable water and to cut water costs. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Olivenhain water district offers free recycled water," 5 Aug. 2019 The final 10% comes from the drawdown of aquifers, such as taking water from the Central Valley of California to irrigate crops. Diya Chacko,, "California’s coast is disappearing, and the debate over what to do about it is in full swing," 11 July 2019 This tends to happen when people are in splashy water parks, jet-skiing, or irrigating their sinuses with tap water that hasn’t been disinfected, boiled, or filtered. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Brain-eating amoeba kills again—here’s how it kills and how to avoid it," 26 July 2019 The tanks typically provide enough water to irrigate her 14 fruit trees through July. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tanks, swales put rainwater to eco-friendly use," 11 July 2019 If DeLucia and his coauthors are right, farmers will have to start irrigating using sources like lakes, rivers, or underground aquifers. Sara Harrison, WIRED, "The Midwest's Farms Face an Intense, Crop-Killing Future," 18 June 2019 Nanos added there are eight natural areas that are not maintained or irrigated at the golf club, thereby allowing a habitat for wildlife. Daniel I. Dorfman,, "Glencoe Golf Club encourages kids to connect with nature," 11 June 2019 The crops were tested in three ways with three tomatoes in each planting: one group was irrigated; one was mulched with grass clippings and not irrigated; and one was not irrigated., "Trial gardens show vegetables can be grown without irrigation," 11 June 2019

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

4 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

Comments on irrigate

What made you want to look up irrigate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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