[verb dee-foh-lee-eyt; adjective dee-foh-lee-it, -eyt]
- to strip (a tree, bush, etc.) of leaves.
- to destroy or cause widespread loss of leaves in (an area of jungle, forest, etc.), as by using chemical sprays or incendiary bombs, in order to deprive enemy troops or guerrilla forces of concealment.
- to lose leaves.
- (of a tree) having lost its leaves, especially by a natural process.
Origin of defoliate
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for defoliate
When neglected for two or three years, they often defoliate large trees.Soil Culture
J. H. Walden
- to deprive (a plant) of its leaves, as by the use of a herbicide, or (of a plant) to shed its leaves
- (of a plant) having shed its leaves
C18: from Medieval Latin dēfoliāre, from Latin de- + folium leaf
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 defoliate
1793, perhaps a back-formation from defoliation. Earlier in this sense was defoil (c.1600). Related: Defoliated; defoliating.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper