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[dih-fahyl] /dɪˈfaɪl/
verb (used with object), defiled, defiling.
to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute; taint; debase.
to violate the chastity of.
to make impure for ceremonial use; desecrate.
to sully, as a person's reputation.
Origin of defile1
1275-1325; Middle English defilen, defelen, alteration of defoilen (by association with filen to file3) < Anglo-French, Old French defouler to trample on, violate; compare Old English befȳlan to befoul
Related forms
defilable, adjective
defilement, noun
defiler, noun
defilingly, adverb
nondefilement, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for defilement
Historical Examples
  • Was not our queen sent back, without any defilement, to her husband, the very next evening?

  • And so will all defilement of spirit in course of time show its power in the flesh.

    Holy in Christ Andrew Murray
  • It was so great and the defilement so complete that he despaired of the possibility of getting cleansed.

    Resurrection Leo Tolstoy
  • Give the defilement over to the fire of His Holiness, the fire that consumes and purifies.

    Holy in Christ Andrew Murray
  • That which is clean is simply free from soil or defilement of any kind.

    English Synonyms and Antonyms James Champlin Fernald
  • So we find that this man also has his disgust of defilement.

    Creative Unity Rabindranath Tagore
  • The touch of the democracy was defilement, and it does not pass.

    The Forest of Swords Joseph A. Altsheler
  • The Hajji stood in the gate guarding his skirts from defilement.

    Actions and Reactions Rudyard Kipling
  • She thinks it would be a profanation to put them upon a person so covered with mud and defilement.

    Spiritual Torrents Jeanne Marie Bouvires de la Mot Guyon
  • For, if there were a God, how could he let purity be clasped in the arms of defilement?

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
British Dictionary definitions for defilement


verb (transitive)
to make foul or dirty; pollute
to tarnish or sully the brightness of; taint; corrupt
to damage or sully (someone's good name, reputation, etc)
to make unfit for ceremonial use; desecrate
to violate the chastity of
Derived Forms
defilement, noun
defiler, noun
Word Origin
C14: from earlier defoilen (influenced by filen to file³), from Old French defouler to trample underfoot, abuse, from de- + fouler to tread upon; see full²


/ˈdiːfaɪl; dɪˈfaɪl/
a narrow pass or gorge, esp one between two mountains
a single file of soldiers, etc
(mainly military) to march or cause to march in single file
Word Origin
C17: from French défilé, from défiler to file off, from filer to march in a column, from Old French: to spin, from fil thread, from Latin fīlum
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 defilement

1570s, from defile (v.) + -ment.



c.1400, "to desecrate, profane;" mid-15c., "to make foul or dirty," alteration of earlier defoulen, from Old French defouler "trample down, violate," also "ill-treat, dishonor," from de- "down" (see de-) + foler "to tread," from Latin fullo "person who cleans and thickens cloth by stamping on it" (see foil (v.)).

The alteration (or re-formation) in English is from influence of Middle English filen (v.) "to render foul; make unclean or impure," literal and figurative, from Old English fylen (trans.), related to Old English fulian (intrans.) "to become foul, rot," from the source of foul (adj.). Cf. befoul, which also had a parallel form befilen. Related: Defiled; defiling.


"narrow passage," 1640s, especially in a military sense, "a narrow passage down which troops can march only in single file," from French défilé, noun use of past participle of défiler "march by files" (17c.), from de- "off" (see de-) + file "row," from Latin filum "thread" (see file (v.)). The verb in this sense is 1705, from French défiler.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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