pol·​lu·​tion | \ pə-ˈlü-shən \

Definition of pollution

1 : the action of polluting especially by environmental contamination with man-made waste also : the condition of being polluted
2 : pollutant

Examples of pollution in a Sentence

industrial practices that have caused pollution of the air and water The tests showed high levels of pollution in the water. The fish are dying of pollution.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The replacement rule from the Interior Department does not have the same mandates for companies to reduce gas pollution. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "California Gov. Brown on Trump: 'Something's got to happen to this guy...he's going to undermine America'," 19 Sep. 2018 The coffee chain’s decision comes after Seattle banned single-use plastic straws and utensils in an effort to reduce plastic pollution. Gina Martinez, Time, "Starbucks Is Ditching Plastic Straws. Here Are 3 of the Most Common Alternatives," 9 July 2018 Also banned are plastic utensils in a push to reduce marine plastic pollution. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., chicagotribune.com, "Seattle becomes first major U.S. city to ban straws," 2 July 2018 The money would buy hydrogen fuel cell buses for AC Transit’s fleet, reducing pollution along bus routes in the East Bay. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "In fighting California gas tax, national Republicans see rallying point," 26 June 2018 Equally disingenuous to say the effort was all about reducing Chesapeake pollution and had nothing to do with stormwater mitigation. Dan Rodricks, baltimoresun.com, "Real-time buses, asphalt aspirations, unconventional wisdom," 22 June 2018 Less traffic would have the added benefit of reducing pollution because cars would not be idling on the freeway as much, said Toledo, 38. Kellen Browning, sacbee, "Davis drivers intrigued by Caltrans traffic plan, but improvements are a decade away," 7 June 2018 The two have worked together recently as a part of Ocean Heroes Bootcamp, a weekend designed to help kids from 11 to 18 gain the knowledge and skills to create a campaign to reduce plastic pollution. Mckenna Moore, Fortune, "Adrian Grenier and Aidan Gallagher Want You to Fight Plastic Pollution for World Environment Day," 5 June 2018 The remains turned up during the construction of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a sewage infrastructure project aimed at reducing sewage pollution in the Thames. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Medieval skeleton’s boots reveal harsh realities of life on the Thames," 6 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pollution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of pollution

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pollution

Dictionary Entries near pollution







poll watcher

Statistics for pollution

Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pollution

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pollution



English Language Learners Definition of pollution

: the action or process of making land, water, air, etc., dirty and not safe or suitable to use

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


pol·​lu·​tion | \ pə-ˈlü-shən \

Kids Definition of pollution

: the action of making something impure and often unsafe or unsuitable for use : the state of being polluted


pol·​lu·​tion | \ pə-ˈlü-shən \

Medical Definition of pollution

1 : the action of polluting or the condition of being polluted
2 : pollutant

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pollution

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pollution

Spanish Central: Translation of pollution

Nglish: Translation of pollution for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pollution for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pollution

Comments on pollution

What made you want to look up pollution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


means, resources, or money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

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

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!