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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 etiolation

Historical Examples

  • Laying of Wheat and other cereals is a particular case of etiolation.

    Disease in Plants

    H. Marshall Ward

  • It seems necessary to draw a distinction between this state and ordinary blanching or etiolation.

    Vegetable Teratology

    Maxwell T. Masters

  • The last, in its wild state, is said to be pernicious, but etiolation changes the products and renders them harmless.

  • Attention was drawn to the fact that by virtue of the laws which Darwin himself had discovered isolation leads to etiolation.

British Dictionary definitions for etiolation


  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 etiolation



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

etiolation in Medicine


  1. Paleness or pallor resulting from deprivation of light.
  2. The process of blanching or making pale by withholding light.
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Related formseti•o•late′ v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

etiolation 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.