As some sneaky five-year-olds know, crossing one’s fingers while making a promise is an effective way to vitiate, or destroy the validity of, an agreement.

Vitiate is often used when a legal agreement is made invalid, but it can also refer to the debasement or corruption of something or someone. If a malicious five-year-old on the playground teaches the other children to lie with their fingers crossed, she would be responsible for vitiating the playground community. The first syllable of this word is pronounced "vish," like the first syllable in vicious.

Definitions of vitiate

v make imperfect

deflower, impair, mar, spoil
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
cloud, corrupt, defile, sully, taint
place under suspicion or cast doubt upon
blemish, deface, disfigure
mar or spoil the appearance of
mangle, maul
injure badly by beating
mark, pit, pock, scar
mark with a scar
Type of:
inflict damage upon

v corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality

corrupt, debase, debauch, demoralise, demoralize, deprave, misdirect, pervert, profane, subvert
show 6 types...
hide 6 types...
carnalise, carnalize, sensualise, sensualize
debase through carnal gratification
corrupt with ideas or an ideology
lead astray, lead off
teach immoral behavior to
spoil as if by poison
bastardise, bastardize
change something so that its value declines; for example, art forms
incite to commit a crime or an evil deed
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

v take away the legal force of or render ineffective

invalidate, void
make valid or confirm the validity of
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.