biodegradable

adjective

bio·​de·​grad·​able ˌbī-(ˌ)ō-di-ˈgrā-də-bəl How to pronounce biodegradable (audio)
: capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things (such as microorganisms)
biodegradable trash bags
biodegradable noun
plural biodegradables
"… we would never discourage the development of technologies that promote recyclables or biodegradables. [=biodegradable materials]" Ruth Lampi
biodegrade verb

Did you know?

In biodegradable, with its root grad, "to step or move", and its prefix de- "downward", we get an adjective describing things that can be broken down into basic substances through normal environmental processes. Animal and plant products are normally biodegradable, but mineral substances such as metals, glass, and plastics usually are not. Newly developed biodegradable plastics are now appearing in numerous products. However, "biodegradable" products can vary greatly in how long they take to break down. A loaf of bread may require only a couple of weeks, and a piece of paper may vanish in a couple of months, but some "biodegradable" plastic milk cartons may take four or five years.

Examples of biodegradable in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The company’s website says the dyes are environmentally friendly, non-toxic, biodegradable and meet U.S. EPA standards. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 11 Mar. 2024 The soft sheet is made of biodegradable organic bamboo cellulose and fits snugly on all face shapes. Catherine Garcia, theweek, 28 Feb. 2024 In addition to being hypoallergenic, this detergent is biodegradable and free of dyes, fragrances, parabens, and phthalates. Laura Lu, Ms, Parents, 27 May 2024 Because the poly bag is not biodegradable, uses several times the plastic that a single-use plastic bag does, and results in three times as much plastic going into the environment, the ban defeats its purpose. Reader Commentary, Baltimore Sun, 11 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for biodegradable 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'biodegradable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1959, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of biodegradable was in 1959

Dictionary Entries Near biodegradable

Cite this Entry

“Biodegradable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/biodegradable. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

biodegradable

adjective
bio·​de·​grad·​able -di-ˈgrād-ə-bəl How to pronounce biodegradable (audio)
: capable of being broken down especially into harmless products by the action of living things (as bacteria)
biodegradability noun
biodegrade verb

Medical Definition

biodegradable

adjective
bio·​de·​grad·​able -di-ˈgrād-ə-bəl How to pronounce biodegradable (audio)
: capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things (as microorganisms)
biodegradability noun
plural biodegradabilities
biodegradation noun
biodegrade verb
biodegraded; biodegrading

More from Merriam-Webster on biodegradable

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