dep·​re·​date | \ ˈde-prə-ˌdāt How to pronounce depredate (audio) \
depredated; depredating

Definition of depredate

transitive verb

: to lay waste : plunder, ravage

intransitive verb

: to engage in plunder

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from depredate

depredation \ ˌde-​prə-​ˈdā-​shən How to pronounce depredate (audio) \ noun
depredator \ ˈde-​prə-​ˌdā-​tər How to pronounce depredate (audio) , di-​ˈpre-​də-​ \ noun
depredatory \ di-​ˈpre-​də-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce depredate (audio) , ˈde-​pri-​də-​ \ adjective

Did you know?

Depredate derives primarily from the Latin verb praedari, meaning "to plunder," an ancestor to our words "predator" and "prey." First appearing in English in the 17th century, the word most commonly appears in contexts relating to nature and ecology, where it is often used to describe the methodical, almost automatic destruction of life. That’s how the film critic Stanley Kauffman, for example, summarized the plot of the famous horror movie Jaws (1975): "A killer shark depredates the beach of an island summer resort. Several people are killed. Finally, the shark is killed. That's the story."

First Known Use of depredate

1626, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for depredate

Late Latin depraedatus, past participle of depraedari, from Latin de- + praedari to plunder — more at prey entry 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About depredate

Time Traveler for depredate

Time Traveler

The first known use of depredate was in 1626

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About depredate

Dictionary Entries Near depredate

depreciation insurance



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for depredate

Cite this Entry

“Depredate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on depredate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for depredate


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!