[ dih-zur-tuh-fi-key-shuhn ]
See synonyms for desertification on
  1. the processes by which an area becomes a desert.

  2. the rapid depletion of plant life and the loss of topsoil at desert boundaries and in semiarid regions, caused mostly by a combination of drought and such human practices as deforestation and unsustainable agriculture, the effects of which are exacerbated by climate change.

Origin of desertification

First recorded in 1970–75; desert1 + -i- + -fication
  • Also des·ert·i·za·tion [dez-er-tuh-zey-shuhn] /ˌdɛz ər təˈzeɪ ʃən/ .

Words Nearby desertification Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use desertification in a sentence

  • The Sahel has been degraded by human use, not natural desertification; the natural process has been the reverse.

    The Upside to Global Warming | Stefan Theil | August 26, 2011 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • So why do we invariably connect higher temperatures with droughts and desertification?

    The Upside to Global Warming | Stefan Theil | August 26, 2011 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • The presence of a nearby desert has no direct relationship to desertification.

    Deserts | A. S. Walker
  • desertification does not occur in linear, easily mappable patterns.

    Deserts | A. S. Walker
  • desertification may intensify a general climatic trend toward greater aridity, or it may initiate a change in local climate.

    Deserts | A. S. Walker
  • This degradation of formerly productive land—desertification—is a complex process.

    Deserts | A. S. Walker
  • Unfortunately, an area undergoing desertification is brought to public attention only after the process is well underway.

    Deserts | A. S. Walker

British Dictionary definitions for desertification


/ (dɪˌzɜːtɪfɪˈkeɪʃən) /

  1. a process by which fertile land turns into barren land or desert

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

Scientific definitions for desertification


[ dĭ-zûr′tə-fĭ-kāshən ]

  1. The transformation of land once suitable for agriculture into desert. Desertification can result from climate change or from human practices such as deforestation and overgrazing.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.