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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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 Often this advocacy has come at the expense of the black neighborhoods, which are more likely to have polluting power plants and are less able to adapt to climate change. Ivan Penn, New York Times, "N.A.A.C.P. Tells Local Chapters: Don’t Let Energy Industry Manipulate You," 5 Jan. 2020 The former owner of a North Pole crude oil refinery has been ordered to pay millions in damages for releasing large amounts of a refinery solvent, sulfolane, into groundwater and polluting hundreds of residents’ drinking water wells. Dan Joling, Anchorage Daily News, "Former owner of North Pole refinery ordered to pay over $29 million in water pollution case," 4 Jan. 2020 Sulliván said seasonal rivers need to be included, too, because anything dumped into a dry river bed will still pollute the river farther down when the rain comes. Lucia Walinchus, Cincinnati.com, "The water is cleaner but the politics are messier: The Clean Water Act movement after 50 years," 27 Dec. 2019 The UN Climate Change Conference earlier this month highlighted the huge disconnect between the world's biggest polluting nations, and the global community demanding change. Helen Regan, CNN, "In Asia Pacific the climate crisis is happening now, not in the future," 23 Dec. 2019 Now anytime the lake is polluted, a city resident can sue on its behalf. Clive Thompson, Wired, "Nature Deserves Legal Rights—and the Power to Fight Back," 17 Dec. 2019 Five months later, the Fernald Feed Materials Production Center was revealed to have been processing uranium – and polluting the region. cincinnati.com, "Accused podcast Season 3, Chapter 4: The truth about Fernald," 17 Dec. 2019 The noisy complaints are an industry realizing its license to expand and pollute is being revoked. Chris Bryant | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Business Class Flying Is Under Attack," 13 Dec. 2019 Both produce far more carbon emissions than aviation, use huge amounts of water and pollute soils and rivers. The Economist, "Green with shame," 12 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

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pollute.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polluted. Accessed 23 January 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

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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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