contaminate

verb
con·​tam·​i·​nate | \ kən-ˈta-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \
contaminated; contaminating

Definition of contaminate

transitive verb

1a : to soil, stain, corrupt, or infect by contact or association Bacteria contaminated the wound.
b : to make inferior or impure by admixture iron contaminated with phosphorus
2 : to make unfit for use by the introduction of unwholesome or undesirable elements water contaminated by sewage

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Other Words from contaminate

contaminative \ kən-​ˈta-​mə-​ˌnā-​tiv How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \ adjective
contaminator \ kən-​ˈta-​mə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for contaminate

Synonyms

Antonyms

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Choose the Right Synonym for contaminate

contaminate, taint, pollute, defile 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 taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination. tainted meat a politician's tainted reputation 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 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

Examples of contaminate in a Sentence

Be careful not to allow bacteria to contaminate the wound. Don't touch the microchip or the oil on your hands will contaminate it. Make sure the white paint is not contaminated by any of the other colors.
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Recent Examples on the Web Environmentalists point out that oil spills can kill thousands of animals, cost tens of millions of dollars to clean up and contaminate beaches for months. New York Times, 9 Oct. 2021 This caused the fish decay to contaminate the river, but Laurel Sayer, CEO of Perpetua, told CBS News' Jeff Glor the company could clean up the mess left behind by, for one, reconnecting the river. CBS News, 14 Aug. 2021 Bacteria digest silk too slowly to contaminate the produce buried below. Max G. Levy, Wired, 28 June 2021 Critics say hollowing out naturally occurring salt caves by leaching the salt with water can cause brine to contaminate nearby water and ground. David Hodari, WSJ, 14 May 2021 But the volume of contaminated water in storage is growing, by a rate of around 170 tons a day, as the nuclear debris continues to contaminate groundwater and rain. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 16 Apr. 2021 At some point, the team will even shine a bright flashlight at the back of the instruments to make sure stray photons don’t slip through where they’re not supposed to and contaminate the measurements. Sarah Scoles, Wired, 17 Aug. 2021 Nitrogen pollutants readily seep into waters of the Floridan Aquifer and contaminate springs flows that otherwise would be pristine. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, 23 June 2021 When a can is not properly sealed to be airtight, air and bacteria can seep inside the can and contaminate the product, the FDA explains. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, 19 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contaminate.' 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 contaminate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contaminate

Middle English contaminaten, borrowed from Latin contāminātus, past participle of contāmināre "to defile, pollute," from con- con- + -tāmināre, verbal derivative of *tāmen "touching, contact," going back to *tāg-(s)men, from tag-, variant stem of tangere "to touch" + *-(s)men, noun suffix of result — more at tangent entry 2

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The first known use of contaminate was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near contaminate

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contaminate

contaminated

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contaminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contaminate. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for contaminate

contaminate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of contaminate

: to make (something) dangerous, dirty, or impure by adding something harmful or undesirable to it

contaminate

verb
con·​tam·​i·​nate | \ kən-ˈta-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \
contaminated; contaminating

Kids Definition of contaminate

1 : to soil, stain, or infect by contact or association The wound was contaminated by bacteria.
2 : to make unfit for use by adding something harmful or unpleasant The water is contaminated with chemicals.

contaminate

transitive verb
con·​tam·​i·​nate | \ kən-ˈtam-ə-ˌnāt How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \
contaminated; contaminating

Medical Definition of contaminate

1 : to soil, stain, or infect by contact or association bacteria contaminated the wound
2 : to make unfit for use by the introduction of unwholesome or undesirable elements water contaminated by sewage

Other Words from contaminate

contaminative \ -​ˌnāt-​iv How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \ adjective
contaminator \ -​ˌnāt-​ər How to pronounce contaminate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on contaminate

Nglish: Translation of contaminate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contaminate for Arabic Speakers

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