pol·​li·​nate | \ ˈpä-lə-ˌnāt How to pronounce pollinate (audio) \
pollinated; pollinating

Definition of pollinate

transitive verb

1 : to carry out the pollination of
2 : to mark or smudge with pollen

Examples of pollinate in a Sentence

The plants are pollinated by bees.
Recent Examples on the Web Orchids pollinated by flies or carrion beetles are often brown and reek of rotting flesh. Katy Kelleher, Longreads, "The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Orchids," 9 Oct. 2019 The stink serves a purpose for the titan arum plant, however, attracting carrion bugs that pollinate it. Brian E. Clark, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin botanical gardens and arboretums are a tropical escape in winter," 27 Dec. 2019 The lights planned for the wall could disrupt the bats that pollinate the saguaro. The Economist, "Donald Trump’s wall will irrevocably change America’s south-western border," 18 Dec. 2019 But most plants in the Arctic are pollinated by insects, not by wind, so that little pollen ends up in the soil—and what’s there could have blown in from a distance. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "DNA recovered from Arctic lakes holds clues for our future world," 10 Dec. 2019 Insects like bees, spiders, beetles and flies are vital to the world’s environment, helping to pollinate plants, naturally decompose dead wildlife and perform other tasks key to the circle of life. Benjamin Vanhoose, PEOPLE.com, "Leaf Blowers Are Killing Countless Bugs, Creating 'Insect Armageddon', German Officials Say," 21 Nov. 2019 Some fruits and fruit varieties can be pollinated by bees who visited flowers on the same tree, while others need a different fruit variety nearby. Pam Peirce, SFChronicle.com, "Planning to grow fruit trees? Start here," 11 Oct. 2019 Honey bees pollinate $15 billion in food crops in the U.S. every year. NBC News, "Bees will be used to deliver a new organic pesticide, but will it save them?," 16 Sep. 2019 Honeybees pollinate billions of dollars of food crops annually in the United States, but agriculture and other land uses that cut into their supply of pollen, as well as pesticides, parasites and other threats, have them on a sharp decline. CBS News, "EPA to allow use of pesticides beekeepers say "decimate beneficial insects"," 12 July 2019

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

1873, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for pollinate

Time Traveler

The first known use of pollinate was in 1873

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Statistics for pollinate

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pollinate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pollinates. Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for pollinate


How to pronounce pollinate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pollinate

: to give (a plant) pollen from another plant of the same kind so that seeds will be produced


pol·​li·​nate | \ ˈpä-lə-ˌnāt How to pronounce pollinate (audio) \
pollinated; pollinating

Kids Definition of pollinate

: to transfer or carry pollen from a stamen to a pistil of a flower or from a male cone to a female cone Bees are pollinating the clover.

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More from Merriam-Webster on pollinate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pollinate

Spanish Central: Translation of pollinate

Nglish: Translation of pollinate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pollinate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pollinate

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


dull or mediocre

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