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[verb kuh n-tam-uh-neyt; noun, adjective kuh n-tam-uh-nit, -neyt] /verb kənˈtæm əˌneɪt; noun, adjective kənˈtæm ə nɪt, -ˌneɪt/
verb (used with object), contaminated, contaminating.
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.
something that contaminates or carries contamination; contaminant.
Obsolete. contaminated.
Origin of contaminate
late Middle English
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
Related forms
contaminable, adjective
contaminative, adjective
contaminator, noun
contaminous, adjective
noncontaminable, adjective
noncontaminative, adjective
recontaminate, verb (used with object), recontaminated, recontaminating.
self-contaminating, adjective
uncontaminable, adjective
uncontaminated, adjective
uncontaminative, adjective
1. defile, pollute, taint, infect, poison, corrupt. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for contaminate


verb (transitive) (kənˈtæmɪˌneɪt)
to make impure, esp by touching or mixing; pollute
to make radioactive by the addition of radioactive material
adjective (kənˈtæmɪnɪt; -ˌneɪt)
(archaic) contaminated
Derived Forms
contaminable, adjective
contaminant, noun
contaminative, adjective
contaminator, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for contaminate

early 15c., from Old French contaminer, from Latin contaminatus, past participle of contaminare "to defile," from contamen "contact, pollution," from com- "together" (see com-) + *tag-, base of tangere "to touch" (see tangent). Related: Contaminant (1934); contaminable.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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contaminate in Medicine

contaminate con·tam·i·nate (kən-tām'ə-nāt')
v. con·tam·i·nated, con·tam·i·nat·ing, con·tam·i·nates

  1. To make impure or unclean by contact or mixture.

  2. To expose to or permeate with radioactivity.

con·tam·i·nant (-nənt) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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