pollute

verb
pol·lute | \pə-ˈlüt \
polluted; polluting

Definition of pollute 

transitive verb

1a : to make ceremonially or morally impure : defile

b : debase sense 1 using language to deceive or mislead pollutes language— Linda C. Lederman

2a : to make physically impure or unclean : befoul, dirty

b : to contaminate (an environment) especially with man-made waste

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from pollute

polluter noun
pollutive \pə-ˈlü-tiv \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for pollute

Synonyms

befoul, contaminate, defile, foul, poison, taint

Antonyms

decontaminate, purify

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for pollute

contaminate, taint, pollute, defile mean to make impure or unclean. contaminate implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source. water contaminated by industrial wastes taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination. tainted meat a politician's tainted reputation pollute, sometimes interchangeable with contaminate, distinctively may imply that the process which begins with contamination is complete and that what was pure or clean has been made foul, poisoned, or filthy. the polluted waters of the river defile implies befouling of what could or should have been kept clean and pure or held sacred and commonly suggests violation or desecration. defile a hero's memory with slanderous innuendo

Examples of pollute in a Sentence

Miles of beaches were polluted by the oil spill. Car exhaust pollutes the air.

Recent Examples on the Web

Cities, businesses and consumers seeking ways to cut down on waste have shunned the plastic straw, which never completely breaks down and can end up in landfills or polluting oceans. Lorraine Mirabella, baltimoresun.com, "More eateries, businesses do away with plastic straws," 13 July 2018 In the end, the biggest enemy of island and coral ecosystems isn’t rats, but humans—we’re the ones that transplant the things, and pollute the oceans, and warm the atmosphere. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Rats! Coral Reefs Aren't Getting the Bird Poop They Need," 11 July 2018 That means plastic straws get tossed in the garbage, ending up in landfills and polluting the ocean. Christina Caron, New York Times, "Starbucks to Stop Using Disposable Plastic Straws by 2020," 9 July 2018 Fueling the movement is increased consumer environmentalism and concern about the many straws that end up polluting oceans and waterways. Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY, "Starbucks to scrap plastic straws globally by 2020," 9 July 2018 Environmentalists say seafaring straws are ingested by marine animals and are one of the top 10 pieces of garbage polluting the oceans. Robert Channick, chicagotribune.com, "From a South Side plastics factory to McDonald's HQ, Chicago is on the front lines of anti-straw push," 11 June 2018 Scientists aren't certain whether global warming is prompting these freak occurrences, but plastics polluting the ocean and increasing global temperatures are still affecting marine life's ability to thrive. Rebecca Deczynski, Woman's Day, "Rare Saber-Toothed Whale Beached on Southern California Coast," 18 Oct. 2013 Banning sunscreen will not solve other problems: for example, temperature anomalies, overfishing, coral predators and the big issue of coastal runoffs that pollute and destroy reefs. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Hawaii is banning sunscreens that kill coral reefs," 2 July 2018 CAFOs typically house 1,000 cows or more and have come under fire over their odors and manure’s potential impact to pollute groundwater and streams. Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Dairy group uses behind-the-scenes influence with Gov. Scott Walker to shift regulation of large livestock farms," 6 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of pollute

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for pollute

Middle English, from Latin pollutus, past participle of polluere, from por- (akin to Latin per through) + -luere (akin to Latin lutum mud, Greek lyma dirt, defilement) — more at for

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pollute

Statistics for pollute

Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pollute

The first known use of pollute was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pollute

pollute

verb

English Language Learners Definition of pollute

: to make (land, water, air, etc.) dirty and not safe or suitable to use

pollute

verb
pol·lute | \pə-ˈlüt \
polluted; polluting

Kids Definition of pollute

: to spoil or make impure especially with waste made by humans Factories pollute the stream.

Other Words from pollute

polluter noun

pollute

transitive verb
pol·lute | \pə-ˈlüt \
polluted; polluting

Medical Definition of pollute 

1 : to make physically impure or unclean

2 : to contaminate (an environment) especially with man-made waste

Other Words from pollute

polluter noun
pollutive \-ˈlüt-iv \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on pollute

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

WORD OF THE DAY

lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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