Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

defile1

[dih-fahyl]
See more synonyms for defile on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), de·filed, de·fil·ing.
  1. to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute; taint; debase.
  2. to violate the chastity of.
  3. to make impure for ceremonial use; desecrate.
  4. to sully, as a person's reputation.
Show More

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 formsde·fil·a·ble, adjectivede·file·ment, nounde·fil·er, nounde·fil·ing·ly, adverbnon·de·file·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

debasement, corruption, contamination

Examples from the Web for defilement

Historical Examples

  • For, if there were a God, how could he let purity be clasped in the arms of defilement?

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • They were greatly afraid of defilement there, and would not come too close.

    Things as They Are

    Amy Wilson-Carmichael

  • If she touched me she would have to bathe to get rid of the defilement.

    Things as They Are

    Amy Wilson-Carmichael

  • And the whiter the soul that is dragged through that—that mire, the more the defilement.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • The thing she proposed was to him, as he had truly said, a desecration, a defilement.


British Dictionary definitions for defilement

defile1

verb (tr)
  1. to make foul or dirty; pollute
  2. to tarnish or sully the brightness of; taint; corrupt
  3. to damage or sully (someone's good name, reputation, etc)
  4. to make unfit for ceremonial use; desecrate
  5. to violate the chastity of
Show More
Derived Formsdefilement, noundefiler, noun

Word Origin

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

defile2

noun
  1. a narrow pass or gorge, esp one between two mountains
  2. a single file of soldiers, etc
Show More
verb
  1. mainly military to march or cause to march in single file
Show More

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

Word Origin and History for defilement

n.

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

Show More

defile

v.

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.

Show More

defile

n.

"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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper