verb (used with object), ex·fo·li·at·ed, ex·fo·li·at·ing.

to throw off in scales, splinters, etc.
to remove the surface of (a bone, the skin, etc.) in scales or laminae.

verb (used without object), ex·fo·li·at·ed, ex·fo·li·at·ing.

to throw off scales or flakes; peel off in thin fragments: The bark of some trees exfoliates.
  1. to split or swell into a scaly aggregate, as certain minerals when heated.
  2. to separate into rudely concentric layers or sheets, as certain rocks during weathering.
Medicine/Medical. to separate and come off in scales, as scaling skin or any structure separating in flakes.

Origin of exfoliate

1605–15; < Late Latin exfoliātus past participle of exfoliāre to strip off leaves. See ex-1, foliate
Related formsex·fo·li·a·tive [eks-foh-lee-ey-tiv, -uh-tiv] /ɛksˈfoʊ liˌeɪ tɪv, -ə tɪv/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for exfoliate

shed, doff, desquamate

Examples from the Web for exfoliate

Contemporary Examples of exfoliate

  • “I enjoy dating beardy blokes because you get to kiss and exfoliate at the same time,” she quips to The Daily Beast.

    The Daily Beast logo
    An Ode to Shaggy Men

    Marisa Meltzer

    October 23, 2009

Historical Examples of exfoliate

British Dictionary definitions for exfoliate



(tr) to wash (a part of the body) with a granular cosmetic preparation in order to remove dead cells from the skin's surface
(of bark, skin, etc) to peel off in (layers, flakes, or scales)
(intr) (of rocks or minerals) to shed the thin outermost layer because of weathering or heating
(of some minerals, esp mica) to split or cause to split into thin flakesa factory to exfoliate vermiculite
Derived Formsexfoliation, nounexfoliative, adjective

Word Origin for exfoliate

C17: from Late Latin exfoliāre to strip off leaves, from Latin folium leaf
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 exfoliate

1610s, from Late Latin exfoliatus, past participle of exfoliare "to strip of leaves," from ex- "off" (see ex-) + folium "leaf" (see folio). Related: Exfoliated; exfoliating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper