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 The metaphor isn’t terribly difficult to uncover: With depression, and a loss of purpose, life is depleted of color. Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2024 Structured settlements allow plaintiffs to customize their investment approach and payment schedule, avoid prematurely depleting their settlement proceeds, and obtain tax benefits for both tax-free and taxable settlement proceeds. Tyler Shepherd, USA TODAY, 10 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for deplete 

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 26 May. 2024.

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

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