contaminate


contaminate
contaminate, taint, attaint, pollute, defile mean to debase by making impure or unclean.
Contaminate implies the presence or the influence of something external which by entering into or by coming in contact with a thing destroys or may destroy the latter's purity
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the city's water supply was in danger of being contaminated by surface drainage

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refused to allow her children to play with other children for fear their manners and morals might be contaminated

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air contaminated by noxious gases

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dispersing from the sky vast quantities of radioactive dust particles . . . contaminating entire cities— Cousins

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Taint differs from contaminate in stressing the effect rather than the cause; something contaminated has been touched by or mixed with what will debase or corrupt; whatever is tainted is no longer pure, clean, unspoiled, or wholesome but is in some measure or degree sullied or stained or in process of corruption or decay
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tainted meat

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his unkindness may defeat my life, but never taint my love— Shak.

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the Claudii, brilliant, unaccountable, tainted with some deep congenital madness— Buchan

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directed toward the purge from the public service rolls of those tainted with fascism— Taylor Cole

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The less common attaint may be closely synonymous with taint
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our writers have been attainted by the disease they must help to cure— Frank

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More often it retains a hint of its primary meaning of to sentence to outlawry or death and then suggests a sullying (as of one's name) or a degrading especially as a result of actual or reputed misconduct
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wherein a good name hath been wrongfully attaintedMilton

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no breath of calumny ever attainted the personal purity of Savonarola— Milman

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Pollute implies that the process which begins with contamination is complete and manifest and that what was pure and clean has lost its clearness or fairness and has become muddy or filthy or poisoned
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the nuisance set forth in the bill was one which would be of international importance—a visible change of a great river from a pure stream into a polluted and poisoned ditch— Justice Holmes

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Pollute is especially apt when the reference is to something that ideally is clean, clear, or bright
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pollute the minds of children by obscenities

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you . . . are polluted with your lusts— Shak.

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Defile strongly implies befouling of something which ought to be kept clean and pure or held sacred. It usually suggests violation, profanation, or desecration and is highly opprobrious in its connotations
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an evil bird that defiles his own nest— Latimer

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scenes such as these, 'tis his supreme delight to fill with riot, and defile with blood— Cowper

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cruelty is not only the worst accusation that can be brought against a man, defiling the whole character— Be Hoc

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Analogous words: *debase, vitiate, corrupt, deprave: impair, spoil, *injure, harm

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • contaminate — con‧tam‧i‧nate [kənˈtæmneɪt] verb [transitive] 1. to make something dirty and dangerous, for example with chemicals or poison: • A large number of eggs were contaminated with salmonella. 2. INSURANCE to spoil goods carried by a ship, especially… …   Financial and business terms

  • Contaminate — Con*tam i*nate (k[o^]n*t[a^]m [i^]*n[=a]t), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Contaminated}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Contaminating}.] [L. contaminatus, p. p. of contaminare to bring into contact, to contaminate, fr. contamen contagion, for contagmen; con + root of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Contaminate — Con*tam i*nate ( n[asl]t), a. Contaminated; defiled; polluted; tainted. Contaminate drink. Daniel. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • contaminate — [kən tam′ə nāt΄] vt. contaminated, contaminating [ME contaminaten < L contaminatus, pp. of contaminare, to defile < contamen, contact, contagion < com , together + base of tangere, to touch: see TACT] to make impure, infected, corrupt,… …   English World dictionary

  • contaminate — I noun abomination, adulteration, befoulment, contagion, defilement, infection, poisoning, pollution, taint, vitiation II verb adulterate, befoul, corrupt, debase, defile, degenerate, degrade, denaturalize, desecrate, disease, impair, infect, mar …   Law dictionary

  • contaminate — (v.) early 15c., from O.Fr. contaminer, from L. contaminatus, pp. of contaminare to defile, from contamen contact, pollution, from com together (see COM (Cf. com )) + *tag , base of tangere to touch (see TANGENT (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • contaminate — [v] adulterate alloy, befoul, corrupt, debase, debauch, defile, deprave, desecrate, dirty, harm, infect, injure, muck up, pervert, poison, pollute, profane, radioactivate, soil, spoil, stain, sully, taint, tarnish, vitiate; concepts 252,254 Ant.… …   New thesaurus

  • contaminate — ► VERB ▪ make impure by exposure to or addition of a poisonous or polluting substance. DERIVATIVES contaminant noun contamination noun contaminator noun. ORIGIN Latin contaminare make impure , from contamen contact, pollution …   English terms dictionary

  • contaminate — v. (D; tr.) to contaminate by, with (to contaminate smb. with smt; a wound contaminated by bacteria) * * * [kən tæmɪneɪt] with (to contaminate smt with smt; a wound contaminated by bacteria) contemplate y. (G) he contaminated resigning (D; tr.)… …   Combinatory dictionary

  • contaminate — transitive verb ( nated; nating) Etymology: Middle English, from Latin contaminatus, past participle of contaminare; akin to Latin contingere to have contact with more at contingent Date: 15th century 1. a. to soil, stain, corrupt, or infect by… …   New Collegiate Dictionary


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