[ dih-zur-tuh-fi-key-shuh n ]
/ dɪˌzɜr tə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən /

noun Ecology.

the processes by which an area becomes a desert.
the rapid depletion of plant life and the loss of topsoil at desert boundaries and in semiarid regions, usually caused by a combination of drought and the overexploitation of grasses and other vegetation by people.

Nearby words

  1. desert soil,
  2. desert varnish,
  3. deserted,
  4. deserter,
  5. deserticolous,
  6. desertion,
  7. deserve,
  8. deserved,
  9. deservedly,
  10. deserving

Also des·ert·i·za·tion [dez-er-tuh-zey-shuh n] /ˌdɛz ər təˈzeɪ ʃən/.

Compare aridification.

Origin of desertification

First recorded in 1970–75; desert1 + -i- + -fication Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for desertization


/ (dɪˌzɜːtɪfɪˈkeɪʃən) /


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

Word Origin and History for desertization



1973, from desert (n.1) + -fication. In French, désertisation is attested from 1968.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for desertization


[ dĭ-zûr′tə-fĭ-kāshən ]

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.