[ verb uh-duhl-tuh-reyt; adjective uh-duhl-ter-it, -tuh-reyt ]
/ verb əˈdʌl təˌreɪt; adjective əˈdʌl tər ɪt, -təˌreɪt /

verb (used with object), a·dul·ter·at·ed, a·dul·ter·at·ing.

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.


impure or debased; cheapened in quality or purity.

Nearby words

  1. adult respiratory distress syndrome,
  2. adult rickets,
  3. adult t-cell lymphoma,
  4. adult training centre,
  5. adulterant,
  6. adulteration,
  7. adulterer,
  8. adulteress,
  9. adulterine,
  10. adulterous

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for adulterate

British Dictionary definitions for adulterate


verb (əˈdʌltəˌreɪt)

(tr) to debase by adding inferior materialto adulterate milk with water

adjective (əˈdʌltərɪt, -ˌreɪt)

adulterated; debased or impure
a less common word for adulterous
Derived Formsadulteration, nounadulterator, noun

Word Origin for adulterate

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper