verb vi·ti·ate \ ˈvi-shē-ˌāt \

Definition of vitiate

vitiated; vitiating
1 : to make faulty or defective : impair
  • the comic impact is vitiated by obvious haste
  • —William Styron
2 : to debase in moral or aesthetic status
  • a mind vitiated by prejudice
3 : to make ineffective
  • fraud vitiates a contract


play \ˌvi-shē-ˈā-shən\ noun


play \ˈvi-shē-ˌā-tər\ noun

vitiate was our Word of the Day on 10/10/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of vitiate in a Sentence

  1. The impact of the film was vitiated by poor acting.

  2. believed that luxury vitiates even the most principled person

Recent Examples of vitiate from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Here's one for word puzzle lovers - and anyone else allured by alliteration. The sentence "Vivian vituperated the vicious villain for valuing vice over virtue" contains three words that derive from the same Latin source as "vitiate." Can you identify all three? If you picked "vituperate" (a verb meaning "to scold"), "vicious," and "vice," your puzzle prowess is beyond reproach. Like "vitiate," all three descend from the Latin noun vitium, meaning "fault" or "vice."

Origin and Etymology of vitiate

Latin vitiatus, past participle of vitiare, from vitium fault, vice

Synonym Discussion of vitiate

debase, vitiate, deprave, corrupt, debauch, pervert mean to cause deterioration or lowering in quality or character. debase implies a loss of position, worth, value, or dignity.
    • commercialism has debased the holiday
vitiate implies a destruction of purity, validity, or effectiveness by allowing entrance of a fault or defect.
    • a foreign policy vitiated by partisanship
deprave implies moral deterioration by evil thoughts or influences.
    • the claim that society is depraved by pornography
corrupt implies loss of soundness, purity, or integrity.
    • the belief that bureaucratese corrupts the language
debauch implies a debasing through sensual indulgence.
    • the long stay on a tropical isle had debauched the ship's crew
pervert implies a twisting or distorting from what is natural or normal.
    • perverted the original goals of the institute

VITIATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of vitiate for English Language Learners

  • : to make (something) less effective : to ruin or spoil (something)

Law Dictionary


transitive verb vi·ti·ate \ ˈvi-shē-ˌāt \

legal Definition of vitiate

vitiated; vitiating
: to make ineffective
  • fraud vitiates a contract

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


fullness to the point of excess

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet-pasta-spelling-help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!