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.

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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 The wind pushed desiccated leaves across the concrete. Lizzie Johnson,, "The sky was blue. The day was perfect. But in Paradise on Friday, nothing felt right," 8 Nov. 2019 Sometimes gusting as hard as a hurricane’s gale, the winds are what turn California’s desiccated autumns into pyrocenic months of smoky skies, electrical blackouts, massive evacuations, and anxiety. Wired, "Shifting Winds and the Changing Shape of California Fires," 29 Oct. 2019 In the San Francisco Bay region — particularly the North Bay, which includes Sonoma County — a relentless 36-hour period of howling, desiccating winds will come to a temporary end on Monday by 11 a.m. local time. Andrew Freedman, Washington Post, "Kincade Fire forces evacuation of nearly 200,000, the largest in Sonoma County history," 28 Oct. 2019 But Phoenix is amazing, pouring himself into this desiccated lost soul without a whit of vanity, charting a self-pity that gives way to homicidal rage as Arthur loses all hope and finds power through the barrel of a gun., "At Toronto International Film Festival, the guys are getting in gear - The Boston Globe," 13 Sep. 2019 An agricultural fair in Zambia’s Mumbwa district is a three-hour drive from Lusaka, much of it through maize fields desiccated by drought. The Economist, "The poor, who most need insurance, are least likely to have it," 22 Aug. 2019 It’s late March, some of them beginning to turn and wilt and fade, heads Drooping, papery at the tips, desiccated, or completely gone, reduced to calyx. Ciaran Carson, The New Yorker, "Claude Monet, “The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil,” 1880," 12 Aug. 2019 Increasing portions of an already fragile landscape were deforested, eroded, and desiccated by Polynesian Hawaiians over the centuries after their arrival in the islands, roughly 1,000 years ago. Wade Graham, Smithsonian, "Why Molokai, With All Its Wonders, Is the Least Developed of Hawai’i’s Islands," 31 Aug. 2019 Welcome to the new India: hot and desiccated and wet and flooded, all at once, with the fates of 1.3 billion people and rich biodiversity hotspots riding upon increasingly unpredictable rains. National Geographic, "India’s water crisis could be helped by better building, planning," 15 July 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.

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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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Time Traveler for desiccate

Time Traveler

The first known use of desiccate was in 1575

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Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Desiccate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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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

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