- to make foul or unclean, especially with harmful chemical or waste products; dirty: to pollute the air with smoke.
- to make morally unclean; defile.
- to render ceremonially impure; desecrate: to pollute a house of worship.
- Informal. to render less effective or efficient: The use of inferior equipment has polluted the company's service.
Origin of pollute
1325–75; Middle English polute < Latin pollūtus past participle of polluere to soil, defile, equivalent to pol-, assimilated variant of por- (see pollicitation; here marking the action as complete) + -lū- base of -luere (akin to lutum mud, dirt, lustrum muddy place) + -tus past participle suffix
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. soil, befoul. 2. taint, contaminate, vitiate, corrupt, debase, deprave.
1, 2. purify.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for pollute
Heaven forbid we pollute young minds with such right-wing neocon propaganda!Rutgers’s Silly Condoleezza Rice Protest
Kristen Soltis Anderson
May 5, 2014
We pollute, but our feeble efforts at cleanup have been largely unsuccessful.Beware at the Beach, the Jellyfish Rule the Seas and It’s Our Fault
June 20, 2013
Livestock degrade land, contribute to climate change, pollute water, and destroy biodiversity.Meat Glue, Pink Slime, Health Risks & More Reasons to Never Eat Meat
The Daily Beast
March 13, 2012
Look for this aquaculture to catch on as mankind, unfortunately, continues to pollute our waterways.What's Next for Foodies
Jacquelynn D. Powers
September 10, 2010
Then, recovering himself, he said angrily, "Pollute not my Daniel with thy touch."Dreamers of the Ghetto
Stained and despised by the world, as I am, I will not pollute this sanctuary!The Home
What miserable scruples to torment, blind, and pollute the soul!Robert Orange
John Oliver Hobbes
And now must you pollute the name of my mother, as you polluted her life?Madeline Payne, the Detective's Daughter
Lawrence L. Lynch
Factories may not pollute streams that furnish drinking water.Civics and Health
William H. Allen
- to contaminate, as with poisonous or harmful substances
- to make morally corrupt or impure; sully
- to desecrate or defile
C14 polute, from Latin polluere to defile
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 pollute
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- To make unfit for or harmful to living things, especially by the addition of waste matter; contaminate.
- To make less suitable for an activity, especially by the introduction of unwanted factors.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.