• synonyms


[verb kuhn-tam-uh-neyt; noun, adjective kuhn-tam-uh-nit, -neyt]
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verb (used with object), con·tam·i·nat·ed, con·tam·i·nat·ing.
  1. to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.: to contaminate a lake with sewage.
  2. to render harmful or unusable by adding radioactive material to: to contaminate a laboratory.
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  1. something that contaminates or carries contamination; contaminant.
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  1. Obsolete. contaminated.
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Origin of contaminate

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 formscon·tam·i·na·ble, adjectivecon·tam·i·na·tive, adjectivecon·tam·i·na·tor, nouncon·tam·i·nous, adjectivenon·con·tam·i·na·ble, adjectivenon·con·tam·i·na·tive, adjectivere·con·tam·i·nate, verb (used with object), re·con·tam·i·nat·ed, re·con·tam·i·nat·ing.self-con·tam·i·nat·ing, adjectiveun·con·tam·i·na·ble, adjectiveun·con·tam·i·nat·ed, adjectiveun·con·tam·i·na·tive, adjective

Synonyms for contaminate

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for contaminate

harm, pollute, injure, tarnish, infect, taint, poison, corrupt, stain, sully, defile, pervert, debase, profane, soil, alloy, befoul, dirty, spoil, debauch

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Contemporary Examples of contaminate

Historical Examples of contaminate

British Dictionary definitions for contaminate


verb (kənˈtæmɪˌneɪt) (tr)
  1. to make impure, esp by touching or mixing; pollute
  2. to make radioactive by the addition of radioactive material
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adjective (kənˈtæmɪnɪt, -ˌneɪt)
  1. archaic contaminated
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Derived Formscontaminable, adjectivecontaminant, nouncontaminative, adjectivecontaminator, noun

Word Origin for contaminate

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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

contaminate in Medicine


  1. To make impure or unclean by contact or mixture.
  2. To expose to or permeate with radioactivity.
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Related formscon•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.