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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.
    • Shakespeare
      Shall we now / Contaminate our figures with base bribes?
    • Goldsmith
      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

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