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[skar-uh-fahy] /ˈskær əˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), scarified, scarifying.
to make scratches or superficial incisions in (the skin, a wound, etc.), as in vaccination.
to lacerate by severe criticism.
to loosen (the soil) with a type of cultivator.
to hasten the sprouting of (hard-covered seeds) by making incisions in the seed coats.
to break up (a road surface).
Origin of scarify
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English scarifie < Middle French scarifier < Late Latin scarīficāre, alteration of Latin scarīfāre, scarīphāre to make scratches < Greek skarīphâsthai to sketch, derivative of skárīphos stylus; see -ify
Related forms
scarifier, noun
unscarified, adjective
Can be confused
scarify, scorify. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for scarifier
Historical Examples
  • For cutting off weeds, the push Hoe or scarifier is excellent.

  • I have almost finished No. 3, in which I have relieved my indignant soul with a scarifier.

  • When the soil has weathered a few weeks, the scarifier or cultivator should be run over it once monthly until May.

    The Cauliflower A. A. Crozier
  • In like manner each group of people possesses its scarifier, who by practice becomes adept.

    Negritos of Zambales William Allan Reed
British Dictionary definitions for scarifier


/ˈskɛərɪˌfaɪ; ˈskærɪ-/
verb (transitive) -fies, -fying, -fied
(surgery) to make tiny punctures or superficial incisions in (the skin or other tissue), as for inoculating
  1. to break up and loosen (soil) to a shallow depth
  2. to scratch or abrade the outer surface of (seeds) to increase water absorption or hasten germination
to wound with harsh criticism
Derived Forms
scarification, noun
scarifier, noun
Word Origin
C15: via Old French from Latin scarīfāre to scratch open, from Greek skariphasthai to draw, from skariphos a pencil


verb -fies, -fying, -fied
(transitive) (informal) to make scared; frighten
Derived Forms
scarifyingly, adverb
Usage note
Scarify is sometimes wrongly thought to mean the same as scare: a frightening (not scarifying) film
Word Origin
C18: from scare + -ify
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 scarifier



mid-15c., "make incisions in the bark of a tree," from Middle French scarifier "score, scrape" (leather or hide), 14c., from Late Latin scarificare (see scarification). The sense "cover with scars" (1680s) is a sense-shift from influence of scar (v.). Related: Scarified; scarifier; scarifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scarifier in Medicine

scarify scar·i·fy (skār'ə-fī')
v. scar·i·fied, scar·i·fy·ing, scar·i·fies
To make shallow cuts in the skin, as when vaccinating.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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