contaminate

Synonym Chooser

How does the verb contaminate contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of contaminate are defile, pollute, and taint. While all these words 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

When can defile be used instead of contaminate?

Although the words defile and contaminate have much in common, 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

When is pollute a more appropriate choice than contaminate?

The synonyms pollute and contaminate are sometimes interchangeable, but 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

When is it sensible to use taint instead of contaminate?

The words taint and contaminate are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination.

tainted meat
a politician's tainted reputation

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Cite this Entry

“Contaminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/contaminate. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

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