Definition of defoliate in English:

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Pronunciation: /dēˈfōlēˌāt/


[with object]
Remove leaves from (a tree, plant, or area of land), for agricultural purposes or as a military tactic: the area was defoliated and napalmed many times
More example sentences
  • The adults and young feed on saltcedar leaves, repeatedly defoliating the tree and depriving it of nutrients.
  • One thousand caterpillars eating leaves might completely defoliate a tree in two weeks, whereas that same number of aphids would hardly be noted.
  • Frosts at any time in the growing season can partially or totally defoliate vines, but they typically remove the outermost leaf layers of a thick canopy.



Pronunciation: /dēˌfōlēˈāSH(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • While vigorous vines may be able to recover from a single defoliation, repeated defoliation can weaken the vine to the point of death.
  • Unlike Japanese larch and white pine, defoliated bear oak seedlings showed very little response to partial defoliation.
  • The effects of defoliation depend in part on the timing of defoliation.


Late 18th century: from late Latin defoliat- 'stripped of leaves', from the verb defoliare, from de- (expressing removal) + folium 'leaf'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: de·fo·li·ate

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