[verb kuh n-tam-uh-neyt; noun, adjective kuh n-tam-uh-nit, -neyt]
- to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.: to contaminate a lake with sewage.
- to render harmful or unusable by adding radioactive material to: to contaminate a laboratory.
- Obsolete. contaminated.
Origin of contaminate
1375–1425; late Middle English contaminaten < Latin contāminātus, past participle of contāmināre to defile, spoil, equivalent to con- con- + -tāminare, verbal derivative of *tāmen something touched < *tag-s-men, equivalent to tag-, variant stem of tangere to touch + -s-men resultative noun suffix; cf. examen
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. defile, pollute, taint, infect, poison, corrupt.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for contaminate
The hope, according to Rucker, is that Beck threatens to contaminate Fox News' overall brand.Beck's Show Weathers Blow
October 7, 2009
His arm was out-stretched as if he feared to contaminate his uniform.Secret Memoirs: The Story of Louise, Crown Princess
Henry W. Fischer
They should be so located as not to contaminate the water supply.Manual of Military Training
James A. Moss
But why contaminate my name, by connecting it, in this instance, with such a wretch?
To contaminate is to make impure by mixture (touching together).Orthography
Elmer W. Cavins
Then the scapegoat is driven on to waste land, where it cannot contaminate anybody.Human Animals
- to make impure, esp by touching or mixing; pollute
- to make radioactive by the addition of radioactive material
- archaic contaminated
C15: from Latin contamināre to defile; related to Latin contingere to touch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for contaminate
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- To make impure or unclean by contact or mixture.
- To expose to or permeate with radioactivity.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.