Anything that's polluted is ruined and dirty — it's been contaminated by something dangerous or even deadly. It's not safe to eat fish caught in a polluted river.

The adjective polluted is obviously a close relative to pollute and pollution, so you know that polluted air or water isn't clean. All of these words come from the Latin polluere, "to soil or defile," from a combination of por-, "before," and -luere, "to smear." A polluted city can result from a coal-burning factory, and things can also be figuratively polluted: "Fear of outsiders created a polluted society."

Definitions of polluted

adj rendered unwholesome by contaminants and pollution

polluted lakes and streams”
combined with extraneous elements

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