View synonyms for adulterate


[ verb uh-duhl-tuh-reyt; adjective uh-duhl-ter-it, -tuh-reyt ]

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.


  1. impure or debased; cheapened in quality or purity.



  1. tr to debase by adding inferior material

    to adulterate milk with water


  1. adulterated; debased or impure
  2. a less common word for adulterous

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Derived Forms

  • aˌdulterˈation, noun
  • aˈdulterˌator, noun

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Other Words From

  • a·dulter·ator noun
  • una·dulter·ate adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of adulterate1

1580–90; < Latin adulterātus mixed, adulterated (past participle of adulterāre ), equivalent to ad- ad- + -ulter (perhaps combining form of alter other; alter ) + -ātus -ate 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of adulterate1

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

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Example Sentences

Watch out for weight-loss supplements, muscle builders, and sexual enhancers, which previous investigations have found are sometimes adulterated with illegal or obscured ingredients, such as pharmaceutical drugs and synthetic chemicals.

From Time

The FDA found serious problems at the HVAD’s manufacturing plant in 2014 and labeled the device “adulterated.”

The tech could also allow people to cross borders without passports — while certifying their identity and keeping a record of their movements that can’t be adulterated.

From Ozy

If there were a law to punish those who adulterate or falsify "truth," our magistrates would be kept extremely busy.

Thou shalt not adulterate thy mess tin by using it as a shaving mug.

Moreover, a neighbor may pollute the water supply, foul the air, and adulterate the food.

It is, of course, illegal to adulterate milk, yet it is sometimes done.

The most convenient and possibly the most common materials used to adulterate milk are water and skim milk.


Related Words

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More About Adulterate

What does adulterate mean?

To adulterate means to make something impure or alter its original form by adding materials or elements that aren’t usually part of it, especially inferior ones.

Adulterate is commonly used in the context of food preparation and manufacturing in reference to the contamination of food products with additives that make them impure in some way. There are laws against this, especially when the ingredients added may be harmful to people’s health. It can also be used in a less serious way to refer to adding ingredients thought to be unnecessary, as in I would never adulterate coffee with sugar or cream.

Adulterate is also commonly used in a more general way to refer to any action that alters something in a way that people think makes it impure or inferior.

The noun form of adulterate is adulteration. The past tense form adulterated can also be used as an adjective, as in Officials confiscated the adulterated foods. Less commonly, adulterate itself can also be used as an adjective in the same way.

Example: Some sellers were caught adulterating the spices by adding fillers.

Where does adulterate come from?

The first records of adulterate come from the 1500s. It derives from the Latin verb adulterāre, meaning “to corrupt.”

Adulterate is most commonly used in the context of food products, but it can be applied to any situation in which inferior ingredients are added, such as to medicines, cosmetics, and fuel. In a lot of cases, products are adulterated by adding materials to make them look better (like the addition of chalk powder to flour to make it look whiter) or by adding filler so that less of the product can be sold at the same price (as in the addition of brick powder to chili powder). Many forms of adulteration can be dangerous, especially because they involve things we put into our body (food and medicine) or on our skin (cosmetics). For that reason, the ingredients of things are often regulated by governments to make sure that harmful adulteration isn’t taking place. Adulterate is always used negatively because doing so can be harmful and it’s generally associated with cutting costs to make more money. But it’s sometimes used more casually to refer to “ruining” the original form of a food by adding other ingredients.

Adulterate can also be applied to abstract or intangible things thought to have been contaminated or made impure in some way, as in This amendment would adulterate our constitution or The remake is an adulterated version of the original.

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What are some other forms related to adulterate?

  • adulteration (noun)
  • adulterated (past tense verb, adjective)

What are some synonyms for adulterate?

What are some words that share a root or word element with adulterate


What are some words that often get used in discussing adulterate?

How is adulterate used in real life?

Adulterate is always used negatively to imply that something has been made impure or worse in some way. It’s most commonly used in the context of food.



Try using adulterate!

Which of the following words is LEAST likely to describe something that has been adulterated?

A. contaminated
B. tarnished
C. pure
D. tainted