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pollute

[puh-loot]
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verb (used with object), pol·lut·ed, pol·lut·ing.
  1. to make foul or unclean, especially with harmful chemical or waste products; dirty: to pollute the air with smoke.
  2. to make morally unclean; defile.
  3. to render ceremonially impure; desecrate: to pollute a house of worship.
  4. Informal. to render less effective or efficient: The use of inferior equipment has polluted the company's service.
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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
Related formspol·lut·er, nounpol·lu·tive, adjectivenon·pol·lut·ing, adjectiveun·pol·lut·ing, adjective

Synonyms

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1. soil, befoul. 2. taint, contaminate, vitiate, corrupt, debase, deprave.

Antonyms

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

Examples from the Web for pollute

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Then, recovering himself, he said angrily, "Pollute not my Daniel with thy touch."

  • Stained and despised by the world, as I am, I will not pollute this sanctuary!

    The Home

    Fredrika Bremer

  • 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?

  • Factories may not pollute streams that furnish drinking water.

    Civics and Health

    William H. Allen


British Dictionary definitions for pollute

pollute

verb (tr)
  1. to contaminate, as with poisonous or harmful substances
  2. to make morally corrupt or impure; sully
  3. to desecrate or defile
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Derived Formspolluter, noun

Word Origin

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

v.

late 14c., "to defile," a back formation from pollution, or else from Latin pollutus, past participle of polluere "to defile, pollute, contaminate." Related: Polluted; polluting. Meaning "make physically foul" is from 1540s; specific sense "contaminate the environment" emerged from late 19c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pollute in Medicine

pollute

(pə-lōōt)
v.
  1. To make unfit for or harmful to living things, especially by the addition of waste matter; contaminate.
  2. To make less suitable for an activity, especially by the introduction of unwanted factors.
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Related formspol•luter n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.