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[a-bley-shuh n] /æˈbleɪ ʃən/
the removal, especially of organs, abnormal growths, or harmful substances, from the body by mechanical means, as by surgery.
the reduction in volume of glacial ice, snow, or névé by the combined processes of melting, evaporation, and calving.
Compare alimentation (def 3).
Aerospace. erosion of the protective outer surface (ablator) of a spacecraft or missile due to the aerodynamic heating caused by travel at hypersonic speed during reentry through the atmosphere.
Origin of ablation
First recorded in 1570-80, ablation is from the Late Latin word ablātiōn- (stem of ablātiō). See ablate, -ion
Can be confused
ablation, ablution. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for ablation


the surgical removal of an organ, structure, or part
the melting or wearing away of an expendable part, such as the heat shield of a space re-entry vehicle on passing through the earth's atmosphere
the wearing away of a rock or glacier
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin ablatiōn-, from Latin auferre to carry away, remove
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for ablation

early 15c., from Latin ablationem (nominative ablatio), "a taking away," noun of action from past participle stem of auferre "to carry away," from ab- "off" (see ab-) + ferre (past participle latum; see oblate) "to bear."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ablation in Medicine

ablation ab·la·tion (ā-blā'shən)
Removal of a body part or the destruction of its function, as by a surgery, disease, or noxious substance.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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ablation in Science
  1. The wearing away or destruction of the outer or forward surface of an object, such as a meteorite or a spacecraft, as it moves very rapidly through the atmosphere. The friction of the air striking the object heats and often melts or burns its outer layers. Spacecraft and missiles are often equipped with heat shields designed to wear away by ablation in order to prevent heat from building up in structurally important parts.

  2. The process by which snow and ice are removed from a glacier or other mass of ice. Ablation typically occurs through melting, sublimation, wind erosion, or calving. ◇ The ablation zone is the area of a glacier that has the lowest elevation, where annual water loss is greater than the annual accumulation of snow.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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