de·fo·li·ate | \-lē-ˌāt \

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

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Other Words from defoliate

defoliation \(ˌ)dē-ˌfō-lē-ˈā-shən \ noun
defoliator \(ˌ)dē-ˈfō-lē-ˌā-tər \ noun

Examples of defoliate in a Sentence

a chemical used to defoliate trees Insects are defoliating the trees.

Recent Examples on the Web

Question: My hickory tree has been defoliated by caterpillars. Tom Maccubbin,, "Caterpillar invasion isn't end for healthy tree," 14 July 2018 These beetles defoliate plants, reducing yields or killing young plants. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "10 Most Destructive Garden Insects And How To Get Rid Of Them," 3 June 2016 Adults eat flowers and skeletonize leaves of a broad range of plants; plants may be completely defoliated. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "How To Defend Your Garden Against Japanese Beetles," 26 Jan. 2018 Oak leaf blister can defoliate and even kill oak trees. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "Grow Healthy Food By Identifying + Treating These Common Plant Diseases," 21 July 2015 Connecticut suffered significant gypsy moth damage in 1981, when 1.5 million acres were defoliated. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Salvaging White Oaks Lost To Gypsy Moth Devastation," 21 May 2018 Adults skeletonize leaves, chew flowers, and may completely defoliate plants while larvae feed on lawn and garden plant roots. The Editors Of Organic Life, Good Housekeeping, "10 Most Destructive Garden Insects And How To Get Rid Of Them," 3 June 2016 The limes with the mechanic’s light show very little damage, but the lemons are defoliating. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, "So many freezing days, so much garden damage," 19 Jan. 2018 Nearly the whole forest, 28,000 acres, was defoliated, no leaves, and giant trees were upside down. Klaus Biesenbach, Christopher Gregory And Ariana Mclaughlin, New York Times, "In Puerto Rico, Artists Rebuild and Reach Out," 25 Jan. 2018

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.

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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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English Language Learners Definition of defoliate

: to cause the leaves of (a plant) to fall off

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