Definition of adulterate in English:



  • Render (something) poorer in quality by adding another substance, typically an inferior one.

    ‘the meat was ground fine and adulterated with potato flour’
    • ‘Legal problems arise when a dishonest producer adulterates the product by substituting synthetic vanillin for natural vanillin without properly identifying the flavoring on the label.’
    • ‘The contaminated chilli powder has been imported from India, where certain producers have been adulterating their product with the red dye.’
    • ‘Some wine-makers throughout history sought to enhance either the quality or quantity of their product by adulterating the basic raw material, grapes, with other products.’
    • ‘The authorities, especially, the health department, should take stringent action against those who are adulterating food.’
    • ‘Africa also needs adequate regulatory supervision: formal mechanisms which ensure that drugs are not adulterated by the time they reach patients.’
    • ‘It was illegally added to chilli powder imported in 2001 by a firm in Hull which again did not know the banned substance was present, apparently after producers in India adulterated products with the red dye.’
    • ‘Ground pepper was adulterated with powdered bones.’
    • ‘The significant feature is that it is still the natural derivative of the plant, and, save exceptionally, it is not adulterated by the addition of any further substances.’
    • ‘It is supposed to be extra pure, but some believe that it is often adulterated with much cheaper, commercial, hexane, which is not pure and contains various hazardous substances such as the toxic benzene.’
    • ‘In most cases, these substances are adulterated with other chemicals and pose risks of overdose.’
    • ‘Ghee is adulterated to the extent of 80 to 85 percent with Vanaspati.’
    • ‘Pot smokers short on time can use a variety of methods to avoid testing positive, such as diluting their urine by drinking a lot of water, substituting someone else's urine, or adulterating their sample with masking agents.’
    • ‘In retaliation, she poisoned the birthday cake of his nine-year-old daughter by adulterating the batter with juice from oleander leaves.’
    • ‘The rice stored in their school for the noon meal scheme was found to be adulterated with fine iron particles, urea, bits of mortar and what not.’
    • ‘Some preparations are adulterated with phenylbutazone, ephedrine, aminopyrine or mandrake root.’
    • ‘His grin widened, but it was adulterated with some apprehension.’
    • ‘22 karat gold was invariably adulterated and actually only 20 or even 18 karat gold.’
    • ‘In Europe in the middle ages, even butter and bread were often adulterated, a practice by which inferior or even dangerous materials were added to the ingredient list.’
    • ‘The Rajasthan Oil Industries Association, for instance, demanded a government inquiry and insisted that punitive action be taken against those found guilty of adulterating the oil supply.’
    • ‘A yellow variety which stains water and has a faint odor is adulterated with the horned-poppy (glaucium).’
    make impure, degrade, debase, spoil, taint, defile, contaminate, pollute, foul, sully
    doctor, tamper with, mix, lace, dilute, water down, thin out, weaken
    bastardize, corrupt
    cut, spike, dope
    View synonyms


Early 16th century (as an adjective meaning spurious): from Latin adulterat- corrupted from the verb adulterare.