[ skar-uh-fahy ]
/ ˈskær əˌfaɪ /

verb (used with object), scar·i·fied, scar·i·fy·ing.

to make scratches or superficial incisions in (the skin, a wound, etc.), as in vaccination.
to lacerate by severe criticism.
to loosen (the soil) with a type of cultivator.
to hasten the sprouting of (hard-covered seeds) by making incisions in the seed coats.
to break up (a road surface).

Origin of scarify

1400–50; late Middle English scarifie < Middle French scarifier < Late Latin scarīficāre, alteration of Latin scarīfāre, scarīphāre to make scratches < Greek skarīphâsthai to sketch, derivative of skárīphos stylus; see -ify

Related forms

scar·i·fi·er, nounun·scar·i·fied, adjective

Can be confused

scarify scorify Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for scarifier

  • I have almost finished No. 3, in which I have relieved my indignant soul with a scarifier.

  • For cutting off weeds, the push Hoe or scarifier is excellent.

  • In like manner each group of people possesses its scarifier, who by practice becomes adept.

    Negritos of Zambales|William Allan Reed
  • When the soil has weathered a few weeks, the scarifier or cultivator should be run over it once monthly until May.

    The Cauliflower|A. A. Crozier

British Dictionary definitions for scarifier (1 of 2)


/ (ˈskɛərɪˌfaɪ, ˈskærɪ-) /

verb -fies, -fying or -fied (tr)

surgery to make tiny punctures or superficial incisions in (the skin or other tissue), as for inoculating
  1. to break up and loosen (soil) to a shallow depth
  2. to scratch or abrade the outer surface of (seeds) to increase water absorption or hasten germination
to wound with harsh criticism

Derived Forms

scarification, nounscarifier, noun

Word Origin for scarify

C15: via Old French from Latin scarīfāre to scratch open, from Greek skariphasthai to draw, from skariphos a pencil

British Dictionary definitions for scarifier (2 of 2)


/ (ˈskɛərɪˌfaɪ) /

verb -fies, -fying or -fied

(tr) informal to make scared; frighten

Derived Forms

scarifyingly, adverb

Word Origin for scarify

C18: from scare + -ify


Scarify is sometimes wrongly thought to mean the same as scare: a frightening (not scarifying) film
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

Medicine definitions for scarifier


[ skărə-fī′ ]


To make shallow cuts in the skin, as when vaccinating.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.