de·​fo·​li·​ate | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈfō-lē-ˌāt How to pronounce defoliate (audio) \
defoliated; defoliating; defoliates

Definition of defoliate

transitive verb

: to deprive of leaves especially prematurely Black spot, which looks like its name, attacks leaves. Left untreated, it spreads and multiplies, and can defoliate the plant.— Dave Dunn During 1979, approximately 226.260 acres of land/forest was estimated to have been defoliated to varying degrees by the Gypsy moth … in Massachusetts.— David B. Halliwell

Other Words from defoliate

defoliation \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌfō-​lē-​ˈā-​shən How to pronounce defoliate (audio) \ noun
defoliator \ (ˌ)dē-​ˈfō-​lē-​ˌā-​tər How to pronounce defoliate (audio) \ noun

Examples of defoliate in a Sentence

a chemical used to defoliate trees Insects are defoliating the trees.
Recent Examples on the Web The snails can defoliate large trees, consume grain crops and infect grain with a fungal pathogen. William Thornton |, al, 21 July 2022 The viburnum leaf beetle is a heavy feeder that can completely defoliate viburnums. Tim Johnson, Chicago Tribune, 2 July 2022 The Palm Beach Agent Orange Association conducted a symbolic balloon release to dramatize the impact of soldiers’ exposure to the deadly chemical used by the U.S. military to defoliate areas of Vietnam. David Lyons, Sun Sentinel, 30 May 2022 The sucking causes stippling of the leaf and can defoliate the plant. Rita Perwich, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 May 2022 Select disease-resistant varieties and examine plants carefully for insects, such as hornworms, that can defoliate a plant. Pam Peirce, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 Sep. 2021 The plant in his hands was a Palmer amaranth descendant that had demonstrated resistance to 2,4-D, one of two active ingredients in compounds used to defoliate forests during the Vietnam War. New York Times, 11 Aug. 2021 Large populations will defoliate plants seemingly overnight. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 29 June 2021 The feeding damage of the larvae is fast — a decent infestation can defoliate a mature plant in a day or so which doesn’t give you much time to react. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 19 June 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of defoliate

1791, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for defoliate

Late Latin defoliatus, past participle of defoliare, from Latin de- + folium leaf — more at blade

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The first known use of defoliate was in 1791

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Last Updated

25 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Defoliate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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