Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make impure or unclean by contact or mixture.
  • transitive v. To expose to or permeate with radioactivity.
  • n. One that contaminates; a contaminant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To introduce impurities or foreign matter; to soil or defile.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To soil, stain, or corrupt by contact; to tarnish; to sully; to taint; to pollute; to defile.
  • adj. Contaminated; defiled; polluted; tainted.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To render impure by mixture or contact; defile; pollute; sully; tarnish; taint; corrupt: usually in a figurative sense.
  • Synonyms To infect, poison, corrupt. See taint.
  • Contaminated; polluted; defiled; tainted; corrupt.

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

  • v. make impure
  • v. make radioactive by adding radioactive material

Etymologies

Middle English contaminaten, from Latin contāmināre, contāmināt-.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin contaminare ("to tough together, blend, mingle, corrupt, defile"), from contamen ("contact, defilement, contagion"), related to tangere. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As the cook cut the melons s/he transferred the contaminate from the outside of the fruit to the inside.

    Treating Veggies and Fruit

  • David Cameron's favourite thinktank, Policy Exchange, published a book-length condemnation which claims that The Spirit Level's authors had produced a shabby, shallow work which threatened to "contaminate" our presumably honest political debate, as if it were an oil slick heading towards a pristine coast.

    The book that has the Tories running scared

  • The authorities had been allowed to "contaminate" the results,

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • To me it recalls the thinking that a drop of African blood in one's heritage was enough to "contaminate" one's whiteness.

    La Gloria Cubana

  • While local television broadcasts are permitted, cinemas are banned, and Khan rails against Western videos that "contaminate" Islamic and Afghan cultural values.

    Reining In The Warlords

  • That human explorers will "contaminate" Mars is inevitable -- humans contain oceans of bacteria, and a human presence on Mars is sure to leave some behind.

    Boing Boing: May 12, 2002 - May 18, 2002 Archives

  • The guards scrambled to pick up all the leaflets so our message wouldn't "contaminate" the criminals confined in the prison.

    On Yankee Station

  • The 18,000 Druse and 2,000 Alawites on the Golan would be reunited with their co-religionists, but decades of life under the Zionists will have created social, economic and, yes, political expectations that could "contaminate" the larger Syrian polity.

    Jihad Monitor

  • This of course raises a question: if shoes are so ritually unclean, just how are these people holding these shoes so as not to 'contaminate' themselves?

    Soccer Dad

  • If I were to perform this work and have my LLC send them the bill, would these earnings "contaminate" my passive income thereby screwing up my tax situation?

    BiggerPockets Forums

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