From Old French contaminer, from Latin contaminare (to touch together, blend, mingle, corrupt, defile), from contamen (contact, defilement, contagion), related to tangere.


  • IPA(key): /kənˈtæmɪneɪt/
  • (file)


contaminate (third-person singular simple present contaminates, present participle contaminating, simple past and past participle contaminated)

  1. (transitive) To make something dangerous or toxic by introducing impurities or foreign matter.
    This water is contaminated. It isn't safe to drink.
  2. (transitive) To soil, stain, corrupt, or infect by contact or association.
    • 1599, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Ivlivs Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene iii]:
      Shall we now / Contaminate our figures with base bribes?
    • (Can we date this quote by Goldsmith and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      I would neither have simplicity imposed upon, nor virtue contaminated.
    • 2014 April 12, Michael Inwood, “Martin Heidegger: the philosopher who fell for Hitler [print version: Hitler's philosopher]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review)[1], London, page R11:
      [Martin] Heidegger's repellent political beliefs do not contaminate his philosophical work.
  3. (transitive) To make unfit for use by the introduction of unwholesome or undesirable elements.
    Do not contaminate the peanut butter with the jelly.
  4. To infect, often with bad objects

Related termsEdit


Further readingEdit




  1. second-person plural present of contaminare
  2. second-person plural imperative of contaminare
  3. feminine plural past participle of contaminare




  1. second-person plural present active imperative of contāminō