See more synonyms for etiolate on
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.
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.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for etiolated

blanch, wan, exhaust, faint, sicken, whiten, fade, bleach, diminish, enervate, pale

Examples from the Web for etiolated

Historical Examples of etiolated

  • His voice was hollow, etiolated like a flower grown in darkness.

    The Jewels of Aptor

    Samuel R. Delany

  • Etiolated, blanched by excluding the light, as the stalks of Celery.

  • The green colour of etiolated plants may be restored by exposure to light.

  • His abstract and etiolated internationalism has been replaced by the warm humanity of writers like, say, David or Pernerstorfer.

  • Suddenly began the plaint of the organ, and some half-dozen voices sang a hymn; and these pale, etiolated voices interested her.

    Evelyn Innes

    George Moore

British Dictionary definitions for etiolated


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

Word Origin for etiolate

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 etiolated



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper