des·​ic·​cate | \ ˈde-si-ˌkāt How to pronounce desiccate (audio) \
desiccated; desiccating

Definition of desiccate

transitive verb

1 : to dry up the desiccated land
2 : to preserve (a food) by drying : dehydrate desiccated coconut
3 : to drain of emotional or intellectual vitality … a charming little romance … not desiccated and compressed within the pages of a book— Elinor Wylie

intransitive verb

: to become dried up leaves desiccating in winter Lake Valencia has been … steadily desiccating for more than 200 years.— J. Platt Bradbury et al.

Other Words from desiccate

desiccative \ ˈde-​si-​ˌkā-​tiv How to pronounce desiccate (audio) \ adjective
desiccator \ ˈde-​si-​ˌkā-​tər How to pronounce desiccate (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

Raisins are desiccated grapes; they're also dehydrated grapes. And yet, a close look at the etymologies of desiccate and dehydrate raises a tangly question. In Latin siccus means "dry," whereas the Greek stem hydr- means "water." So how could it be that desiccate and dehydrate are synonyms? The answer is in the multiple identities of the prefix de-. It may look like the same prefix, but the de- in desiccate means "completely, thoroughly," as in despoil ("to spoil utterly") or denude ("to strip completely bare"). The de- in dehydrate, on the other hand, means "remove," the same as it does in defoliate ("to strip of leaves") or in deice ("to rid of ice").

Examples of desiccate in a Sentence

that historian's dryasdust prose desiccates what is actually an exciting period in European history add a cup of desiccated coconut to the mix
Recent Examples on the Web But the winds also desiccate vegetation and create dangerous wildfire conditions. Los Angeles Times, 11 Nov. 2021 At shallow depths, the eggs would cook and desiccate. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, 25 June 2021 Comparatively, the cremated young adult was burned before their body had begun to desiccate and decompose. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Aug. 2020 Here, volcanic lakes, acid pools, desiccated basins, and subterranean caverns are no match for biology. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, 26 Aug. 2019 These efforts to resurrect pieces of the delta’s desiccated ecosystems face major challenges, including limited funds, scarce water supplies, and the hotter, drier conditions brought on by climate change. Ian James,, 19 Apr. 2020 A few weeks later, a reporter found Rippee at a Vallejo strip mall, asleep on a patch of concrete littered with dirty socks and desiccated orange peels. Jocelyn Wiener,, 4 Jan. 2020 For their study, researchers analyzed active and desiccated tardigrades across a timespans ranging between one and 48 hours. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, 16 Jan. 2020 The mocking laughter of the servant Lesbus, and the grim image of the dead and desiccated Roman wolf that descends behind him, seem more like their curse. James Romm, The New York Review of Books, 1 Mar. 2020

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

1575, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for desiccate

Latin desiccatus, past participle of desiccare to dry up, from de- + siccare to dry, from siccus dry — more at sack

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The first known use of desiccate was in 1575

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Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Desiccate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for desiccate


des·​ic·​cate | \ ˈdes-i-ˌkāt How to pronounce desiccate (audio) \
desiccated; desiccating

Medical Definition of desiccate

transitive verb

1 : to dry up or cause to dry up : deprive or exhaust of moisture especially : to dry thoroughly uses radio frequencies of 100,000 Hz to 10,000,000 Hz to cut, coagulate, and desiccate tissue — Bettyann Hutchisson et al.
2 : to preserve a food by drying : dehydrate desiccated coconut

intransitive verb

: to become dried up : undergo a desiccating process

More from Merriam-Webster on desiccate

Nglish: Translation of desiccate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of desiccate for Arabic Speakers


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