de·​plete di-ˈplēt How to pronounce deplete (audio)
depleted; depleting; depletes

transitive verb

: to empty of a principal substance
The lake was depleted of water.
depleting the country of its natural resources
: to lessen markedly in quantity, content, power, or value
deplete our life savings
their depleted resources
depletable adjective
depleter noun
depletion noun
depletive adjective

Did you know?

The de- prefix often means "do the opposite of", so deplete means the opposite of "fill". Thus, for example, a kitchen's food supplies can be rapidly depleted by hungry teenagers. But deplete often suggests something more serious. Desertions can deplete an army; layoffs can deplete an office staff; and too much time in bed can rapidly deplete your muscular strength.

Choose the Right Synonym for deplete

deplete, drain, exhaust, impoverish, bankrupt mean to deprive of something essential to existence or potency.

deplete implies a reduction in number or quantity so as to endanger the ability to function.

depleting our natural resources

drain implies a gradual withdrawal and ultimate deprivation of what is necessary to an existence.

personal tragedy had drained him of all spirit

exhaust stresses a complete emptying.

her lecture exhausted the subject

impoverish suggests a deprivation of something essential to richness or productiveness.

impoverished soil

bankrupt suggests impoverishment to the point of imminent collapse.

war had bankrupted the nation of resources

Examples of deplete in a Sentence

Activities such as logging and mining deplete our natural resources. We completely depleted our life savings when we bought our new house.
Recent Examples on the Web This year a New York Times data investigation found that groundwater is being dangerously depleted nationwide, largely by agricultural overuse. Max Bearak, New York Times, 29 Nov. 2023 Priorat was once a country seat for the Barcelona elite and a fine wine region, but phylloxera (a pest that destroys grapevines) swept through in the early 1900s, depleting the wine industry. Maya Kachroo-Levine, Travel + Leisure, 26 Nov. 2023 No honest person can selfishly deplete entire buckets of candy offered to them on Halloween night only to celebrate contentment a few weeks later. Faith Barton, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Nov. 2023 Since news leaked of the change, the policy has been understandably alarming among indie musicians worried that their already small slice of the streaming pie will further deplete. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 21 Nov. 2023 Stocks of essential food in all of Gaza, including rice and vegetable oil, will be depleted in one to three days, the WFP said. NBC News, 7 Nov. 2023 Additionally, its foreign reserves are rapidly depleting. David Unsworth, Fox News, 17 Nov. 2023 The war in Gaza, along with ongoing U.S. support of Ukraine, has prompted concern in some quarters that Taiwan could be left dangerously vulnerable, as American armaments are depleted. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 14 Nov. 2023 Roughly 2 billion people worldwide rely on groundwater as a primary source, but 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are already being depleted faster than they can be replenished. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deplete.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin dēplētus, past participle of dēplēre "to drain, draw off, empty out," from dē- de- + plērē "to fill" — more at full entry 1

First Known Use

1807, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of deplete was in 1807

Dictionary Entries Near deplete

Cite this Entry

“Deplete.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​plete di-ˈplēt How to pronounce deplete (audio)
depleted; depleting
: to reduce in amount by using up : exhaust especially of strength or resources
soil depleted of minerals
a depleted treasury
depletion noun

Medical Definition


transitive verb
de·​plete di-ˈplēt How to pronounce deplete (audio)
depleted; depleting
: to empty (as the blood vessels) of a principal substance
a body depleted by excessive blood loss
tissues depleted of vitamins

More from Merriam-Webster on deplete

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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