verb (used with object), de·filed, de·fil·ing.

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 defile

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 formsde·fil·a·ble, adjectivede·file·ment, nounde·fil·er, nounde·fil·ing·ly, adverbnon·de·file·ment, noun


[dih-fahyl, dee-fahyl]


any narrow passage, especially between mountains.

verb (used without object), de·filed, de·fil·ing.

to march in a line or by files.

Origin of defile

1675–85; < French défilé, noun use of past participle of défiler to file off; see defilade Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for defiled

Contemporary Examples of defiled

  • They also revived the old custom of killing women who were seen to have defiled their family “honor.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Israel's Secret Honor Killings

    Lipika Pelham

    March 8, 2014

  • I cannot help but think of the political and ideological interests that have defiled the city.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A New Jerusalem Day?

    Jill Jacobs

    May 18, 2012

  • And it's just so easy, I thought as I pulled my shirt on and, once again, said thank you to the young man I'd just defiled.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Sex in the Time of GPS

    Clark Harding

    February 1, 2010

Historical Examples of defiled

  • Then Alexander's Feast—the little harpies have been at that too, and it is defiled.

  • But if he had defiled it, might not Hermione have been the subject of a great revulsion?

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • Yes, my husband who has defiled me as no other on earth could have soiled and degraded me!

    Louisiana Lou

    William West Winter

  • They have sacked it, defiled it, destroyed it; but what does that matter!

    Doctor Pascal

    Emile Zola

  • If we had gone in, those vessels and the water in them would have been defiled.

    Things as They Are

    Amy Wilson-Carmichael

British Dictionary definitions for defiled



verb (tr)

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 Formsdefilement, noundefiler, noun

Word Origin for defile

C14: from earlier defoilen (influenced by filen to file ³), from Old French defouler to trample underfoot, abuse, from de- + fouler to tread upon; see full ²




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 for defile

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

Word Origin and History for defiled



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