Synonyms & Antonyms of pollute

to make unfit for use by the addition of something harmful or undesirable
  • outmoded factories polluting the air

Synonyms for pollute

Words Related to pollute

Near Antonyms for pollute

Antonyms for pollute

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About pollute

How does the verb pollute contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of pollute are contaminate, defile, and taint. While all these words mean "to make impure or unclean," 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 can contaminate be used instead of pollute?

The words contaminate and pollute can be used in similar contexts, but contaminate implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source.

water contaminated by industrial wastes

When is defile a more appropriate choice than pollute?

The words defile and pollute are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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 it sensible to use taint instead of pollute?

The synonyms taint and pollute are sometimes interchangeable, but taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination.

tainted meat

a politician's tainted reputation

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pollute

Time Traveler for pollute

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Pollute.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pollute

Dictionary: Definition of pollute

Medical Dictionary: Definition of pollute

Nglish: Translation of pollute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pollute for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pollute

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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