[verb dee-foh-lee-eyt; adjective dee-foh-lee-it, -eyt]

verb (used with object), de·fo·li·at·ed, de·fo·li·at·ing.

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.

verb (used without object), de·fo·li·at·ed, de·fo·li·at·ing.

to lose leaves.


(of a tree) having lost its leaves, especially by a natural process.

Nearby words

  1. defoe,
  2. defoe, daniel,
  3. defog,
  4. defogger,
  5. defoliant,
  6. defoliation,
  7. deforce,
  8. deforciant,
  9. deforest,
  10. deforestation

Origin of defoliate

1785–1795; < Medieval Latin dēfoliātus, past participle of dēfoliāre, equivalent to Latin dē- de- + foli(um) leaf + -ātus -ate1

Related formsde·fo·li·a·tion, nounde·fo·li·a·tor, nounun·de·fo·li·at·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for defoliation

British Dictionary definitions for defoliation


verb (diːˈfəʊlɪˌeɪt)

to deprive (a plant) of its leaves, as by the use of a herbicide, or (of a plant) to shed its leaves

adjective (diːˈfəʊlɪɪt)

(of a plant) having shed its leaves
Derived Formsdefoliation, noundefoliator, noun

Word Origin for defoliate

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 defoliation
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper