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Alternative forms[edit]


From vitiātus[1], the perfect passive participle of Latin vitiō (damage, spoil), from vitium (vice).



vitiate (third-person singular simple present vitiates, present participle vitiating, simple past and past participle vitiated)

  1. (transitive) to spoil, make faulty; to reduce the value, quality, or effectiveness of something
    • 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson, "An Address delivered before the Senior Class in Divinity College, Cambridge, Sunday evening, 15 July, 1838":
      The least admixture of a lie, -- for example, the taint of vanity, the least attempt to make a good impression, a favorable appearance, -- will instantly vitiate the effect.
    • 1997, Andrew Miller, Ingenious Pain:
      ‘Mr Rose,’ says the Physician, ‘this man was brought to us from Russia. Precisely such a case of vitiated judgment as I describe at length in my Treatise on Madness. Mayhap you have read it?’
    • 2007, David Roodman, "A Short Note on the Theme of Too Many Instruments", Center for Global Development Working Paper 125 (August 2007), p. 9
      Unfortunately, as Anderson and Sørenson (1996) and Bowsher (2002) document, instrument proliferation can vitiate the test.
  2. (transitive) to debase or morally corrupt
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 12:
      There was excellent blood in his veins—royal stuff; though sadly vitiated, I fear, by the cannibal propensity he nourished in his untutored youth.
    • 1890, Leo Tolstoy, The Slavery of Our Times:
      The robber does not intentionally vitiate people, but the governments, to accomplish their ends, vitiate whole generations from childhood to manhood with false religions and patriotic instruction.
  3. (transitive, archaic) to violate, to rape
    • 1965, John Fowles, The Magus:
      ‘Crush the cockatrice,’ he groaned, from his death-cell. ‘I am dead in law’ – but of the girl he denied that he had ‘attempted to vitiate her at Nine years old’; for ‘upon the word of a dying man, both her Eyes did see, and her Hands did act in all that was done’.
  4. (transitive) to make something ineffective, to invalidate
    • 1734, William Stukeley, Of the Gout, page 78:
      ...all the hinges of the animal frame are subverted, every animal function is vitiated; the carcass retains but just life enough to make it capable of suffering.
    • 2011 September 2, Dexter Filkins, “Turkey's Thirty-Year Coup”, in The New Yorker[1]:
      After the trials, Turkey's secular elite was completely vitiated.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “vitiate”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading[edit]




  1. second-person plural present active imperative of vitiō