pollute

verb pol·lute \ pə-ˈlüt \
Updated on: 12 Dec 2017

Definition of pollute

polluted; polluting
transitive verb
1 a : to make ceremonially or morally impure : defile
b : debase 1
  • using language to deceive or mislead pollutes language
  • —Linda C. Lederman
2 a : to make physically impure or unclean : befoul, dirty
b : to contaminate (an environment) especially with man-made waste

polluter

noun

pollutive

play \pə-ˈlü-tiv\ adjective

Examples of pollute in a Sentence

  1. Miles of beaches were polluted by the oil spill.

  2. Car exhaust pollutes the air.

Recent Examples of pollute from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

POLLUTE Defined for English Language Learners

pollute

verb

Definition of pollute for English Language Learners

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


POLLUTE Defined for Kids

pollute

verb pol·lute \ pə-ˈlüt \

Definition of pollute for Students

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

polluter

noun

Medical Dictionary

pollute

transitive verb pol·lute \ pə-ˈlüt \

medical Definition of pollute

polluted; polluting
1 : to make physically impure or unclean
2 : to contaminate (an environment) especially with man-made waste

polluter

noun

pollutive

play \-ˈlüt-iv\ adjective


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