de·​plete | \di-ˈplēt \
depleted; depleting

Definition of deplete 

transitive verb

1 : to empty of a principal substance The lake was depleted of water. depleting the country of its natural resources

2 : to lessen markedly in quantity, content, power, or value deplete our life savings their depleted resources

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Other Words from deplete

depletable \ -​ˈplē-​tə-​bəl \ adjective
depleter \ -​ˈplē-​tər \ noun
depletion \ -​ˈplē-​shən \ noun
depletive \ -​ˈplē-​tiv \ adjective

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

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.

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

Govan says that concurrent building projects don’t deplete the philanthropy community. Deborah Vankin,, "At LACMA, new urgency to finish raising $650 million for the new museum building," 3 July 2018 One group of mice that were fed a diet laced with triclosan for three weeks ended up with low-grade inflammation of the colon and saw their garden of gut microbes become notably depleted. Melissa Healy, Washington Post, "Triclosan wreaks havoc on the guts of mice," 8 June 2018 The draw slows a crackling—albeit depleted—North Carolina team which avoided its first loss of the season. Glynn A. Hill, Houston Chronicle, "Kealia Ohai, Dash take draw against Courage," 3 June 2018 Other scientists confirmed that dopamine is depleted in people with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative condition that causes tremors and rigidity, and L-dopa soon became the standard treatment for the illness. Denise Gellene,, "Arvid Carlsson, 95; discovered a treatment for Parkinson’s," 2 July 2018 The patch releases B vitamins, which are depleted after an extra-messy night. The Editors Of Gq, GQ, "How to Cure a Hangover: A Drinker’s Guide to Surviving the Morning After," 29 June 2018 The final concert of any tour has a special closing-night hotness, when energy reserves can safely be depleted. David Patrick Stearns,, "Philadelphia Orchestra ends its contentious Israel tour with a Jerusalem concert, and some soul searching," 5 June 2018 The fuel keeping your guard up around your daughter was finally depleted. Carolyn Hax, idahostatesman, "Stay-at-home husband causing tensions | Idaho Statesman," 6 Mar. 2018 The report also said that Medicare’s hospital insurance fund would be depleted in 2026, three years earlier than anticipated in last year’s report. David Harrison, WSJ, "Social Security Expected to Dip Into Its Reserves This Year," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deplete.' 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 deplete

1807, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for deplete

Latin depletus, past participle of deplēre, from de- + plēre to fill — more at full

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Statistics for deplete

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deplete

The first known use of deplete was in 1807

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More Definitions for deplete



English Language Learners Definition of deplete

: to use most or all of (something important) : to greatly reduce the amount of (something)


de·​plete | \di-ˈplēt \
depleted; depleting

Kids Definition of deplete

: to reduce in amount by using up The soil was depleted of minerals.


transitive verb
de·​plete | \di-ˈplēt \
depleted; depleting

Medical Definition of deplete 

: to empty (as the blood vessels) of a principal substance a body depleted by excessive blood loss tissues depleted of vitamins

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Comments on deplete

What made you want to look up deplete? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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