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

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Other Words from pollute

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for pollute



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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 For years, industries from factories to dry cleaners dumped solvents around their plants and left the groundwater polluted with harmful chemicals including trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE). Ian James, azcentral, "Arizona awaits EPA decision on adding toxic Phoenix site to Superfund list," 14 May 2020 The campus crazies demanding safe spaces seem to have polluted the entire culture with fear and anxiety. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "COVID Cash for the Arts: Where to Start," 2 May 2020 On Thursday, crews reinforced a nearby dam to catch runoff water from the site, which had been polluted with chemicals. Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati.com, "'It's out.' Fire in Morgan Township no longer a danger to community, investigations underway," 21 Feb. 2020 The company is discharging water polluted with arsenic, cyanide, mercury and other heavy metals into streams of the Salmon River, home to several species of fish protected by the Endangered Species Act, Nez Perce Tribal leaders say. USA TODAY, "MLK, robot unemployment, Python Bowl: News from around our 50 states," 14 Jan. 2020 Another threat is development that pollutes the streams with sediment. Washington Post, "Grant aimed at boosting endangered candy darter’s comeback," 13 Jan. 2020 As John Flesher reports for the Associated Press, the company is among those responsible for the Kalamazoo being polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from paper recycling mills. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, "Indiana county copes with being surrounded by legal weed: The Flyover," 12 Dec. 2019 The Kalamazoo is polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, from paper recycling mills. John Flesher, Detroit Free Press, "Company to pay $245M toward cleanup of Kalamazoo River pollution," 11 Dec. 2019 The vote came after several years of streets, yards and waterways being polluted with the contents of Fort Lauderdale toilets. Susannah Bryan, sun-sentinel.com, "‘Disgusting brown river’ of sewage floods streets, driveways in Fort Lauderdale neighborhood," 10 Dec. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for pollute

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for pollute

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pollute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pollute. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for pollute


How to pronounce pollute (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pollute

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


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
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 pollutive (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on pollute

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pollute

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pollute

Spanish Central: Translation of pollute

Nglish: Translation of pollute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pollute for Arabic Speakers

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