[ puh-loot ]
/ pəˈlut /

verb (used with object), pol·lut·ed, pol·lut·ing.

to make foul or unclean, especially with harmful chemical or waste products; dirty: to pollute the air with smoke.
to make morally unclean; defile.
to render ceremonially impure; desecrate: to pollute a house of worship.
Informal. to render less effective or efficient: The use of inferior equipment has polluted the company's service.

Nearby words

  1. pollock, sir frederick,
  2. pollster,
  3. polltaker,
  4. pollucite,
  5. pollutant,
  6. polluted,
  7. polluter,
  8. pollution,
  9. pollux,
  10. polly

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

1, 2. purify.

Related formspol·lut·er, nounpol·lu·tive, adjectivenon·pol·lut·ing, adjectiveun·pol·lut·ing, adjective

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

Examples from the Web for polluter

  • Take the shipping industry—they are just as big a polluter as the airline industry, if not more.

    Branson Blasts Off|Matthew Dakotah|September 1, 2009|DAILY BEAST
  • From all time the polluter of a spring has been held accursed.

  • He fought a difficult fight all his life in a world that ignored him, except when it was denouncing him as a polluter of Society.

    The Art of Letters|Robert Lynd

British Dictionary definitions for polluter


/ (pəˈluːt) /

verb (tr)

to contaminate, as with poisonous or harmful substances
to make morally corrupt or impure; sully
to desecrate or defile
Derived Formspolluter, noun

Word Origin for pollute

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 polluter
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for polluter


[ pə-lōōt ]


To make unfit for or harmful to living things, especially by the addition of waste matter; contaminate.
To make less suitable for an activity, especially by the introduction of unwanted factors.
Related formspol•luter n.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.