• synonyms


[verb uh-duhl-tuh-reyt; adjective uh-duhl-ter-it, -tuh-reyt]
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verb (used with object), a·dul·ter·at·ed, a·dul·ter·at·ing.
  1. to debase or make impure by adding inferior materials or elements; use cheaper, inferior, or less desirable goods in the production of (any professedly genuine article): to adulterate food.
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  1. impure or debased; cheapened in quality or purity.
  2. adulterous.
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Origin of adulterate

1580–90; < Latin adulterātus mixed, adulterated (past participle of adulterāre), equivalent to ad- ad- + -ulter (perhaps combining form of alter other; see alter) + -ātus -ate1
Related formsa·dul·ter·a·tor, nounun·a·dul·ter·ate, adjective
Can be confusedadulterer adulterate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for adulterate


verb (əˈdʌltəˌreɪt)
  1. (tr) to debase by adding inferior materialto adulterate milk with water
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adjective (əˈdʌltərɪt, -ˌreɪt)
  1. adulterated; debased or impure
  2. a less common word for adulterous
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Derived Formsadulteration, nounadulterator, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin adulterāre to corrupt, commit adultery, probably from alter another, hence to approach another, commit adultery
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 adulterate


1530s, back-formation from adulteration, or else from Latin adulteratus, past participle of adulterare "to falsify, corrupt," also "to commit adultery." Earlier verb was adulter (late 14c.). Related: Adulterated; adulterating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper