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See more synonyms for etiolate on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), e·ti·o·lat·ed, e·ti·o·lat·ing.
  1. to cause (a plant) to whiten or grow pale by excluding light: to etiolate celery.
  2. to cause to become weakened or sickly; drain of color or vigor.
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verb (used without object), e·ti·o·lat·ed, e·ti·o·lat·ing.
  1. (of plants) to whiten or grow pale through lack of light.
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Origin of etiolate

1785–95; < French étioler to make pale, etiolate (plants), probably derivative, based on N French dial. forms, of standard French éteule, Old French estoble, estuble stubble; see -ate1
Related formse·ti·o·la·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for etiolate

Historical Examples

  • I can not believe that, to produce one roseate complexion, she must etiolate a thousand.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

British Dictionary definitions for etiolate


  1. botany to whiten (a green plant) through lack of sunlight
  2. to become or cause to become pale and weak, as from malnutrition
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Derived Formsetiolation, noun

Word Origin

C18: from French étioler to make pale, probably from Old French estuble straw, from Latin stipula
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 etiolate


of plants, "grown in darkness," 1791, from French étiolé, past participle of étioler "to blanch" (17c.), perhaps literally "to become like straw," from Norman dialect étule "a stalk," Old French esteule "straw, field of stubble," from Latin stipula "straw." Related: Etiolated.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

etiolate in Science


  1. A pathological condition of plants that grow in places that provide insufficient light, as under stones. It is characterized by elongated stems and pale color due to lack of chlorophyll.
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Related formsetiolate verb
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.