[ a-bley-ter ]
/ æˈbleɪ tər /

noun Aerospace.

See under ablation(def 3).

Origin of ablator

Definition for ablator (2 of 2)

[ 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


ablation ablution
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for ablator (1 of 2)

/ (æbˈleɪtə) /


the heat shield of a space vehicle, which melts or wears away during re-entry into the earth's atmosphere

Word Origin for ablator

C20: from ablation

British Dictionary definitions for ablator (2 of 2)

/ (æbˈleɪʃən) /


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 for ablation

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 Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for ablator

[ ă-blāshən ]


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.

Scientific definitions for ablator

[ ă-blāshən ]

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.
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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.