from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act of adulterating, or the state of being adulterated or debased by admixture with something else, generally of inferior quality; the use, in the production of any professedly genuine article, of ingredients which are cheaper and of an inferior quality, or which are not considered so desirable by the consumer as other or genuine ingredients for which they are substituted.
  • noun The product or result of the act of adulterating; that which is adulterated.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The act of adulterating; corruption, or debasement (esp. of food or drink) by foreign mixture.
  • noun An adulterated state or product.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The action of adulterating, being mixed with extraneous material, illicit substitution of one substance for another.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun being mixed with extraneous material; the product of adulterating
  • noun the act of adulterating (especially the illicit substitution of one substance for another)


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • "For the poor, tea brought immediate if unsustaining comfort -- not the Hyson of the well-to-do but cheap leaves often adulterated with poisonous black lead."

    --Kate Colquhoun, Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking (NY: Bloomsbury, 2007), 240


    "Every cookbook and manual had its tips for detecting adulteration, practically turning the cook into a chemist. From 1820, when Frederick Accum's <i>Treatise on Adulterations of Food and Culinary Poisons</i> created such a furore that he had to leave the country, housekeepers found themselves ever more vigilant regarding vinegar made of vitriol, pickles greened with copperas, bread bulked and whitened with chalk, bones or plaster of Paris, and 'cream' made from milk thickened with potato starch." (p. 269)


    "Leaving their factories late and exhausted, the best food in the markets already purchased, the poorest bought wilted vegetables, old cheese, rancid bacon, tough meat taken from diseased cattle, decaying potatoes and miserably adulterated goods. ... adulteration of goods was reaching a fraudulent and dangerous peak,* and they (the poor) bore the brunt of it. But in an atomised society nobody much bothered about the undernourished, deceived and poisoned who, Engels believed, were lurching towards a revolution like those already ravaging the Continent. Indeed, ... the nation only drew back from the brink of potential revolution with repeal of the Corn Laws, which had maintained an artificially high price of corn. ... If it had not been for the lessons learned from its earlier civil war, Britain too might have tumbled into political turmoil during the worst of the 'Hungry Forties'.

    *The <i>Lancet</i> investigations in the early 1850s horrified the medical journal's readers when it found each of forty-nine bread samples to be adulterated. Coffee was commonly bulked with chicory or mangle-worzel and acorn, milk was watered, and tea had up to half its weight made up of iron filings. ... Against such 'death in the pot' fraudulence, the Food Adulteration Acts of 1872 and, particularly, 1875 at last outlawed the practices of short weights, bulking out and adding poisons to fake superior goods." (p. 289)

    January 18, 2017