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.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from desiccate

desiccative \ ˈde-​si-​ˌkā-​tiv How to pronounce desiccative (audio) \ adjective
desiccator \ ˈde-​si-​ˌkā-​tər How to pronounce desiccator (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 Comparatively, the cremated young adult was burned before their body had begun to desiccate and decompose. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Humans in the Near East Cremated Their Dead 9,000 Years Ago," 17 Aug. 2020 Here, volcanic lakes, acid pools, desiccated basins, and subterranean caverns are no match for biology. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, "See 10 of Earth's most alien landscapes," 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,, "How a trickle of water is breathing life into the parched Colorado River Delta," 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,, "Do California’s most severely mentally ill need more forced treatment?," 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, "Tardigrades Can Survive In Space, But They Have One Surprising Weakness," 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, "The Winking Satire of ‘Agrippina’," 1 Mar. 2020 Tinder-dry vegetation has blown into power lines, sparking fires fanned by high winds across a landscape desiccated from drought and climate change. Washington Post, "Utility to pay $360M for major Southern California wildfires," 13 Nov. 2019 Spectators were left spellbound or nauseated as the face—gaunt and desiccated but nevertheless that of a recognizable human being, dead for many thousands of years—was gradually revealed from beneath its protective garments. National Geographic, "Europe's morbid 'mummy craze' has been an obsession for centuries," 10 Dec. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about desiccate

Time Traveler for desiccate

Time Traveler

The first known use of desiccate was in 1575

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about desiccate

Statistics for desiccate

Cite this Entry

“Desiccate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on desiccate

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


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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