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Synonym Chooser

How does the verb taint contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of taint are contaminate, defile, and pollute. While all these words mean "to make impure or unclean," taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination.

tainted meat
a politician's tainted reputation

When would contaminate be a good substitute for taint?

While in some cases nearly identical to taint, 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 taint?

The words defile and taint 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 pollute a more appropriate choice than taint?

Although the words pollute and taint have much in common, 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

Thesaurus Entries Near taint

Cite this Entry

“Taint.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/taint. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

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