If you adulterate something, you mess it up. You may not want to adulterate the beauty of freshly fallen snow by shoveling it, but how else are you going to get to work?

The verb adulterate comes from the Latin word adulterare, which means “to falsify,” or “to corrupt.” Whenever something original, pure, fresh, or wholesome is marred, polluted, defaced, or otherwise made inferior, it has been adulterated. Your grandfather may, for instance, believe that bartenders adulterate the name “Martini” by applying it to combinations of vodka, chocolate or anything other than a mixture of five parts gin to one part dry vermouth, on the rocks, with a twist.

Definitions of adulterate
  1. verb

    corrupt, debase, or make impure by adding a foreign or inferior substance; often by replacing valuable ingredients with inferior ones

    adulterate liquor”
    debase, dilute, load, stretch

    extend, stretch

    increase in quantity or bulk by adding a cheaper substance
    see moresee less


    water down

    thin by adding water to
    doctor, doctor up, sophisticate

    alter and make impure, as with the intention to deceive
    type of:

    corrupt, spoil

    alter from the original

  2. adjective

    mixed with impurities

    adulterated, debased


    combined with extraneous elements

Word Family