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



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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 Experimental fish feeds aim to solve this problem and address yet another concern: that waste from fish pens will pollute natural waterways. Ellen Ruppel Shell, Scientific American, 1 May 2022 Gasoline suppliers basically pay to pollute, and the state would get the money. Hartford Courant, 30 Apr. 2022 Critics argue the plan still leaves the possibility of a dam breach and spill and that the coal ash will pollute groundwater as the water table rises to come in contact with the stored ash material. Dennis Pillion | Dpillion@al.com, al, 21 Apr. 2022 State environmental officials unlawfully approved a large copper mine in central Montana despite worries that mining waste would pollute a river that’s popular among boaters, a state judge ruled. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 12 Apr. 2022 The program offers incentives to farmers to reduce nutrient runoff – which can pollute watersheds and cause harmful algal blooms – as well as other programs addressing crop rotation, cover crops and nutrient management. cleveland, 26 Oct. 2021 Mostly these levels are attributed to wastewater treatment plants along the river that pollute it. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 25 Apr. 2022 There’s no stereo or touchscreen display to pollute the purity of the car’s vintage cabin, but a pair of USB ports, hidden beneath the central arm rest, are offered as an option. Alistair Charlton, Forbes, 13 Apr. 2022 Coal waste contains contaminants such as cadmium and arsenic that can pollute groundwater. Diego Moendoza-moyers Staff Writer, San Antonio Express-News, 28 Feb. 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

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

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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pollute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pollute. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for pollute


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


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


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