vi·​ti·​ate | \ˈvi-shē-ˌāt \
vitiated; vitiating

Definition of vitiate 

transitive verb

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

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Other Words from vitiate

vitiation \ ˌvi-​shē-​ˈā-​shən \ noun
vitiator \ ˈvi-​shē-​ˌā-​tər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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."

Examples of vitiate in a Sentence

The impact of the film was vitiated by poor acting. believed that luxury vitiates even the most principled person

Recent Examples on the Web

Because labor law only governs things like forming a union and organizing for better wages, anything out of that ambit, like going to court as a class, doesn’t vitiate the workers’ individual arbitration agreements. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "The Supreme Court Has Decided to Shut Workers Out of the Courthouse for Good," 21 May 2018 Pruitt, however, has issued rules that greatly vitiate TSCA’s ability to monitor and regulate the use of chemicals. Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek, "How the EPA's Scott Pruitt Became the Most Dangerous Member of Trump’s Cabinet," 8 Feb. 2018 What’s vitiating our politics, in his view, is corruption. Barton Swaim, WSJ, "Review: Corrupting the Body Politic," 14 Dec. 2017 One is in bondage either to one’s own will, which inevitably vitiates one’s actions, or to the divine will, which makes them truly good. Marilynne Robinson, New Republic, "The Luther Legend," 12 Dec. 2017 That would vitiate the executive branch’s coequal status and, when combined with Congress’s impeachment power, establish legislative supremacy—a result the Framers particularly feared. David B. Rivkin Jr. And Lee A. Casey, WSJ, "Can a President Obstruct Justice?," 10 Dec. 2017 Every pardon undercuts a prior judicial decision and vitiates a court’s judgment that the defendant violated a criminal statute and ought to be punished. Frank Bowman, Slate Magazine, "Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is an Impeachable Offense," 26 Aug. 2017 Accepting the plaintiffs’ claims in Jesner would vitiate limits that the Supreme Court has imposed on the law. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Alien Torts Unlimited," 10 Oct. 2017 The Japanese fleet, however, was vitiated: 12,000 casualties and 26 ships sunk, with others irreparably damaged. Peter Eisner, Smithsonian, "Without Chick Parsons, General MacArthur May Never Have Made His Famed Return to the Philippines," 29 Sep. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of vitiate

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vitiate

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

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Dictionary Entries near vitiate







Viti Levu

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Time Traveler for vitiate

The first known use of vitiate was in 1534

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More Definitions for vitiate



English Language Learners Definition of vitiate

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


transitive verb
vi·​ti·​ate | \ˈvi-shē-ˌāt \
vitiated; vitiating

Legal Definition of vitiate 

: to make ineffective fraud vitiates a contract

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Comments on vitiate

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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