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[mohlt] /moʊlt/
verb (used with or without object), noun, British.


[mohlt] /moʊlt/
verb (used without object)
(of birds, insects, reptiles, etc.) to cast or shed the feathers, skin, or the like, that will be replaced by a new growth.
verb (used with object)
to cast or shed (feathers, skin, etc.) in the process of renewal.
an act, process, or an instance of molting.
something that is dropped in molting.
Also, especially British, moult.
Origin of molt
1300-50; earlier mout (with intrusive -l-; cf. fault, assault), Middle English mouten, Old English -mūtian to change (in bi-mūtian to exchange for) < Latin mūtāre to change; see mutate
Related forms
molter, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for moult
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You always choose February to moult in, and you will have to be feathered down there.

    Love and Lucy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • Jack was caught two or three times, and Dan and moult as often.

    The Innocents Abroad Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • Head black (with some white after the moult at Christmas), abdomen black.

    Indian Birds Douglas Dewar
  • From the French muer, and the Latin mutare, to change, of hawks to moult.

    The Master of Game Second Duke of York, Edward
  • During a moult the cuticle of the head is cast separately from that of the body.

  • In this species, after the first moult, the power of flight is lost for ever.

    Birds in Flight W. P. Pycraft
  • All the other small hawks may moult in company with others of the same sex.

  • This is when the broken feather is to be imped merely for the purpose of the moult.

  • At the autumn moult, it obtains a long tail and a streaked crown.

    An Australian Bird Book John Albert Leach
British Dictionary definitions for moult


(of birds, mammals, reptiles, and arthropods) to shed (feathers, hair, skin, or cuticle)
the periodic process of moulting See also ecdysis
Derived Forms
moulter, (US) molter, noun
Word Origin
C14 mouten, from Old English mūtian, as in bimūtian to exchange for, from Latin mūtāre to change


verb, noun
the usual US spelling of moult
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for moult

see molt.



also moult, mid-14c., mouten, of feathers, "to be shed," from Old English *mutian "to change" (cf. bemutian "to exchange"), from Latin mutare "to change" (see mutable). Transitive sense, of birds, "to shed feathers" is first attested 1520s. With parasitic -l-, late 16c., on model of fault, etc. Related: Molted, moulted; molting, moulting. As a noun from 1815.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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moult in Medicine

molt (mōlt)
v. molt·ed, molt·ing, molts
To shed periodically part or all of a coat or an outer covering, such as feathers, cuticle, or skin, which is then replaced by a new growth. n.

  1. The act or process of molting.

  2. The material cast off during molting.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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moult in Science
To shed an outer covering, such as skin or feathers, for replacement by a new growth. Many snakes, birds, and arthropods molt.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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