Definition of denature in US English:



[with object]often as adjective denatured
  • 1Take away or alter the natural qualities of.

    ‘empty verbalisms and denatured ceremonies’
    • ‘His colour gets disembodied or denatured in these pictures, but much of its life, as found in his early water colours, issues out in the spirited passages in line.’
    • ‘This abuse of language mirrors the abuse which we make our existence: we have denatured it in removing from it any trace of the sacred, in our blind observance of the dictums of project and work.’
    • ‘This is music denatured: homogenised, pasteurised, and sterilised.’
    • ‘In all his fiction, rural black folk culture stands upon its own foundations, in some sense independent of and in opposition to an urbanized, industrialized, mechanistic, and denatured Western civilization.’
    • ‘Men belch out at superdramatic volumes (nothing ever sounds natural), and mezzos sound nothing short of ridiculous, their voices denatured by the attempt to imbue the music with highbrow seriousness and high volume.’
    • ‘The second half of the book posits that the new sexual morality - a survival technique, really - has disconnected generation from generation and denatured our politics.’
    • ‘Papers tended to be reduced to the lowest common denominator, inoffensive to any service, even before they reached the chiefs themselves, where the necessity for unanimous agreement caused them to be denatured even further.’
    • ‘I guess the tripe was what the cabbage was stuffed with; I don't know because everything was so denatured it had no flavour.’
    • ‘Curiously, the same logic also appears to be true of the tourist strip, which, in its own tacky way, is a classic example of how run-amok corporate money can leave a place wholly denatured.’
    • ‘However, we must hold firmly to the outlines or our production will be diffuse, denatured, and ineffective, not leaving the indelible residue in the mind that an accumulation of arsenic does.’
    • ‘Only by reconsidering these choices can we see the loss of vision entailed by modern science, and perhaps how science remains parasitic upon the less denatured reality from which it arose.’
    • ‘Ellis's colors are equally denatured, deadpan and flattened; although at times a kind of cinematic backlighting illuminates them and gives them dimension.’
    • ‘Halberstam chronicles some of the hazing and banter, but for the most part this vividly masculine world is denatured.’
    • ‘A bravura narrative moment reveals itself when he discloses the history of one single apartment, showing how it becomes degraded and denatured as it ceases to be a family home and becomes a drug-dealer's den.’
    1. 1.1 Make (alcohol) unfit for drinking by the addition of toxic or foul-tasting substances.
      • ‘But SDA (specially denatured alcohol) is treated with denaturants which permit its use in a greater number of specialized arts and industries.’
      • ‘Use denatured alcohol to remove dried latex paint spills or drips.’
      • ‘A car on one of the trains is also leaking denatured alcohol, which of course, is extremely dangerous.’
      • ‘A number of cars derailed, including one that began leaking denatured alcohol.’
    2. 1.2Biochemistry Destroy the characteristic properties of (a protein or other biological macromolecule) by heat, acidity, or other effects that disrupt its molecular conformation.
      • ‘Experimentally, urea and guanidinium chloride are widely used as denaturant agents, but it is still not clear by which molecular mechanism they denature proteins.’
      • ‘Raising the temperature will most likely denature the protein.’
      • ‘Heat stress can denature proteins, and the cell mobilizes chaperonins like a small army of physical therapists to twist everything back into its proper conformation.’
      • ‘Both these changes occur because heat denatures the myoglobin.’
      • ‘When food is cooked, some of its proteins become denatured.’


Late 17th century: from French dénaturer, from dé- (expressing reversal) + nature ‘nature’.