pollute

verb
pol·​lute | \ pə-ˈlüt How to pronounce pollute (audio) \
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

Other Words from pollute

polluter noun
pollutive \ pə-​ˈlü-​tiv How to pronounce pollute (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for pollute

Synonyms

Antonyms

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 Reversing a Trump-era rule, the Environmental Protection Agency moved to restore authority to states and tribes to stop energy projects that could pollute local waters. New York Times, 19 June 2022 Facilities regularly excrete excess fish feed, fish waste, antibiotics, and other chemicals that pollute the water, threaten wildlife, and hurt natural habitats. Marianne Cufone, Fortune, 4 Nov. 2021 The Cuyahoga’s water helped create the industries that would pollute it. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 28 Aug. 2020 For half a century, states under the Clean Water Act had broad authority to alter or even block many energy projects and other infrastructure that threatened to pollute or harm waterways within their borders. BostonGlobe.com, 2 June 2022 For half a century, states under the Clean Water Act had broad authority to alter or even block many energy projects and other infrastructure that threatened to pollute or harm waterways within their borders. Dino Grandoni, Anchorage Daily News, 2 June 2022 But not all automakers are on board with a plan to pollute the planet for as long as possible. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 9 June 2022 Trade laws should be used as one negotiating tactic to get China and other countries to pollute less. Baltimore Sun, 18 May 2022 People argue that to allow facets of your work-self to permeate your family-self is to pollute precious family time. Bob Bennett, Forbes, 2 May 2022 See More

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.

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

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best air purifiers.

Learn More About pollute

Time Traveler for pollute

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near pollute

pollutant

pollute

polluting

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pollute

Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pollute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pollute. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for pollute

pollute

verb
pol·​lute | \ pə-ˈlüt How to pronounce pollute (audio) \
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 How to pronounce pollute (audio) \
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 How to pronounce pollute (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on pollute

Nglish: Translation of pollute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pollute for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!