[ skar-uh-fahy ]
See synonyms for scarify on
verb (used with object),scar·i·fied, scar·i·fy·ing.
  1. to make scratches or superficial incisions in (the skin), to produce an immune response or administer certain injections: The smallpox vaccine, which was administered by scarifying the skin, left a telltale scar on the upper arm. During the therapeutic procedure of wet cupping, the practitioner scarifies the skin after suction.

  2. to scratch, etch, cut, or burn designs or images into the skin in order to create permanent decorative or symbolic scars.

  1. to lacerate by severe criticism.

  2. to loosen (the soil) with a type of cultivator.

  3. to hasten the sprouting of (hard-covered seeds) by making incisions in the seed coats.

  4. to break up (a road surface).

Origin of scarify

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English scarifien, from Middle French scarifier, scarefier, from Late Latin scarīficāre, alteration of Latin scarīfāre, scarīphāre “to make scratches, scrach,” from Greek skarīphâsthai “to sketch,” derivative of skárīphos “stylus”; see also -ify

Other words from scarify

  • scar·i·fi·er, noun
  • un·scar·i·fied, adjective

Words that may be confused with scarify

Words Nearby scarify Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use scarify in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for scarify (1 of 2)


/ (ˈskɛərɪˌfaɪ, ˈskærɪ-) /

verb-fies, -fying or -fied (tr)
  1. surgery to make tiny punctures or superficial incisions in (the skin or other tissue), as for inoculating

  2. agriculture

    • to break up and loosen (soil) to a shallow depth

    • to scratch or abrade the outer surface of (seeds) to increase water absorption or hasten germination

  1. to wound with harsh criticism

Origin of scarify

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

Derived forms of scarify

  • scarification, noun
  • scarifier, noun

British Dictionary definitions for scarify (2 of 2)


/ (ˈskɛərɪˌfaɪ) /

verb-fies, -fying or -fied
  1. (tr) informal to make scared; frighten

Origin of scarify

C18: from scare + -ify

usage For scarify

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

Derived forms of scarify

  • scarifyingly, adverb

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