1

defile

verb de·file \ di-ˈfī(-ə)l , dē- \

Definition of defile

defiled; defiling
transitive verb
:to make unclean or impure: such as
a :to corrupt the purity or perfection of :debase
  • the countryside defiled by billboards
b :to violate the chastity or virginity of :deflower
c :to make physically unclean especially with something unpleasant or contaminating
  • boots defiled with blood
  • … I had never allowed anyone to smoke in the truck. Drunk as I was, I knew that I was betraying something by allowing him to defile the truck's interior.
  • —Patrick Moore
d :to violate the sanctity of :desecrate
  • defile a sanctuary
  • went to jail for costuming themselves in the American flag and thus defiling it
  • —James R. Gaines
e :sully, dishonor
  • defile his reputation

defilement

play \-ˈfī(-ə)l-mənt\ noun

defiler

play \-ˈfī-lər\ noun

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Recent Examples of defile from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of defile

Middle English, alteration (influenced by filen to defile, from Old English fȳlan) of defoilen to trample, defile, from Anglo-French defoiller, defuler, to trample, from de- + fuller, foller to trample, literally, to full — more at full

Synonym Discussion of defile

contaminate, taint, pollute, defile mean to make impure or unclean. contaminate implies intrusion of or contact with dirt or foulness from an outside source.
    • water contaminated by industrial wastes
taint stresses the loss of purity or cleanliness that follows contamination.
    • tainted meat
    • a politician's tainted reputation
pollute, sometimes interchangeable with contaminate, distinctively may imply that the process which begins with contamination is complete and that what was pure or clean has been made foul, poisoned, or filthy.
    • the polluted waters of the river
defile implies befouling of what could or should have been kept clean and pure or held sacred and commonly suggests violation or desecration.
    • defile a hero's memory with slanderous innuendo

2

defile

noun de·file \ di-ˈfī(-ə)l , ˈdē-ˌfī(-ə)l \

Definition of defile

geology
:a narrow passage (as between hills, rocks, or cliffs) :1gorge
  • … come to us from a narrow defile in the Pennine Alps between Switzerland and Italy, a place called the Great St. Bernard Pass.
  • —Michael Olmert

Examples of defile in a Sentence

  1. the cattle, once they were cornered in the defile, were quickly rounded up

Origin and Etymology of defile

French défilé, from past participle of défiler — see 3defile

defile Synonyms

Synonyms
col, couloir, canyon, flume, gap, gill [British], gorge, gulch, gulf, kloof [South African], linn [chiefly Scottish], notch, pass, ravine, saddle
Related Words
abyss, chasm, cirque, cleft, crevasse, crevice, cwm [chiefly British], fissure; combe (also coombe or coomb) [British], dale, dell, glen, hollow, shut-in, vale, valley; basin, floodplain, kettle; arroyo, barranca (also barranco), coulee, draw, gully (also gulley), gutter, nullah, trench, trough, wadi, wash [West]

3

defile

verb de·file \ di-ˈfī(-ə)l , ˈdē-ˌfī(-ə)l \

Definition of defile

defiled; defiling
intransitive verb
military
:to march off in a line
  • … breaks out into a brave and glorious descripion of the forces, as they defiled through the principal gate of the city …
  • —Washington Irving

Recent Examples of defile from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of defile

French défiler, from dé- de- + filer to move in a column — more at file


DEFILE Defined for English Language Learners

defile

noun

Definition of defile for English Language Learners

  • : a narrow passage through mountains


Law Dictionary

defile

transitive verb de·file \ di-ˈfīl \

legal Definition of defile

defiled; defiling
:to dishonor by physical acts (as trampling, dirtying, or mutilating)
  • defiling the flag

defilement

noun

defiler

noun


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