SKIP TO CONTENT

contaminate

The verb contaminate means the same as pollute. Whether it’s food, air, or water, when you contaminate something, you make it impure or hazardous.

Contaminate comes from the Latin word contaminat-, meaning “made impure.” You can use the word to indicate that a hazardous substance has been introduced into something else, such as food that is contaminated with mold. It can also be used figuratively to describe the spoiling of a good thing, like one person's habit of gossiping that can contaminate a conversation among friends.

Definitions of contaminate
  1. verb
    make impure
    synonyms: foul, pollute
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    infect, taint
    contaminate with a disease or microorganism
    pollute
    contaminate (the environment) with waste or harmful substances
    superinfect
    infect (an infected cell) further or infect a cell already containing similar organisms
    smut
    affect with smut or mildew, as of a crop such as corn
    type of:
    begrime, bemire, colly, dirty, grime, soil
    make soiled, filthy, or dirty
  2. verb
    make radioactive by adding radioactive material
    “Don't drink the water--it's contaminated
    see moresee less
    Antonyms:
    decontaminate
    rid of contamination
    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week