Word of the Day : April 5, 2017

defile

play
verb dih-FYLE

Definition

: to march off in a line

Examples

The generals gazed on impassively as the troops defiled past.

"He watched as the troops defiled across the bridge; their thinned ranks made a noticeable impression on the monarch." — Michael V. Leggiere, Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany, 2015



Did You Know?

It's likely that when you hear the verb defile, what comes to mind is not troop movements but, rather, something being contaminated or desecrated. That more commonly encountered homograph of defile, meaning "to make unclean or impure," dates back to the 15th century and is derived from the Anglo-French verb defoiller, meaning "to trample." Today's word, on the other hand, arrived in English in the early 18th century. It is also from French but is derived from the verb défiler, formed by combining dé- with filer ("to move in a column"). Défiler is also the source of the English noun defile, which means "narrow passage or gorge."



Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a French-derived English verb meaning "to march out into open ground": d _ b _ _ ch.

VIEW THE ANSWER

Podcast


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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