Main definitions of defile in English

: defile1defile2

defile1

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1 Damage the purity or appearance of; mar or spoil:

    ‘the land was defiled by a previous owner’
    • ‘And then, you know, the reality is that the image never conforms to the reality and sooner or later, the image is going to be defiled and everybody is going to be enraged.’
    • ‘We have not treated our brethren in the animal kingdom well and we've defiled much of the space they need to live.’
    • ‘We have allowed ourselves to be dirtied, to be defiled; and the worst of it is that we have done this to ourselves.’
    • ‘That and to make him one of the leaders of the sport he defiled is ludicrous!’
    • ‘Not a scrap of paper or a sheet of plastic mars its ancient premises in sharp contrast to the clutter that usually defiles our heritage sites.’
    • ‘Half a million visitors a year have taken their toll on the place, defiling the green shores and slopes of Walden Pond through the erosive effect of their activity.’
    • ‘In satisfying his urge to steal the Royal digit, Paton was risking his reputation by defiling the Bruce's skeleton, which had been uncovered by workmen in 1818 where it lay inside Dunfermline Abbey.’
    • ‘Always the showman, he once hired a falcon to deter pigeons from defiling their sparkling new offices in Victoria.’
    • ‘The corridor was dirty, crimson stains defiling the walls.’
    • ‘‘Your hands are too dirty to defile the hilt of my mentor's sword,’ said Wolfus, as he kept back his sword.’
    • ‘Today, Dolly preceded me, and there came another great kerfuffle as she thundered over to the fountain, intent on murdering the avian intruder who was defiling her property.’
    • ‘The council, for its part, accused the traders of violating city by-laws and of defiling the environment.’
    • ‘The revelations have been received gleefully in French publishing and literary circles, where the author is regarded as a jumped-up interloper who has defiled French literature.’
    • ‘The absence of a good moral character defiled perceived beauty, making the latter superficial.’
    • ‘He insists that no one touches Priest, a man of honor, even if he is leading the ‘foreign hordes’ who are defiling this great city.’
    • ‘The massive laundry operations that began nearly a century ago near the Marmalong Bridge, industrial effluent upstream and the sewage of the city defiled the river.’
    • ‘He was shown tending the pigs, working with a basket and broom, cremating corpses for a fee, and finally breaking down when his wife would not let him touch her for fear of being defiled.’
    spoil, sully, mar, impair, debase, degrade
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Desecrate or profane (something sacred):
      ‘the tomb had been defiled and looted’
      • ‘This has not been the case recently, as mindless youths disrespect, desecrate and defile the church and its surrounding area.’
      • ‘He insisted that Jesus - who famously ejected money-changers from a temple for defiling a sacred place - would back him.’
      • ‘We did not want non-Jews to enter our Temple to defile our sacred sites or texts.’
      • ‘Around his neck he wore his white robe, the bottom of which was stained red by the blood that now defiled the sacred hall's floor.’
      • ‘Torah scrolls are publicly burned, and swine are sacrificed over sacred Jewish books to defile them.’
      • ‘And then they defiled the sacred name of Christ many times in my presence.’
      • ‘By defiling this sacred ground, you have released an ancient evil spirit.’
      • ‘However, the hapu say building houses on the sacred mountain at Ngunguru would be akin to defiling Westminster Abbey or the Vatican.’
      • ‘The mob entered the synagogue, desecrated the biggest house of worship and defiled the Scrolls of the Law.’
      • ‘Atalanta and Hippomenes are changed to lions for defiling a sacred shrine.’
      desecrate, profane, violate, treat sacrilegiously
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2archaic Rape or sexually assault (a woman):
      ‘and the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom’
      • ‘It is sickening that old men and grandfathers can develop this ‘who-gives-a-damn’ attitude and go on the rampage to defile young girls, some of them only a few months old.’
      • ‘The scoundrels who made their living plundering, murdering those who got in their way, mercilessly defiling women… it was too much for her to bear.’
      • ‘Your men defiled my sisters and slaughtered my brothers!’
      • ‘From every one talked to it is clear that men that defile girls or rape women have no excuse whatsoever.’
      • ‘She had been training to become a priestess, when she had been defiled.’

Origin

Late Middle English: alteration of obsolete defoul, from Old French defouler trample down, influenced by obsolete befile ‘befoul, defile’.

Pronunciation:

defile

/dɪˈfʌɪl/

Main definitions of defile in English

: defile1defile2

defile2

noun

Pronunciation: /dɪˈfʌɪl//ˈdiːfʌɪl/
  • A steep-sided narrow gorge or passage (originally one requiring troops to march in single file):

    ‘the twisting track wormed its way up a defile to level ground’
    • ‘And so the Path led me by many narrow defiles and crumbling ridges to the mouth of a cave.’
    • ‘From here a footpath runs north, through a narrow defile between Meall na h-Aodainn Moire and Creag Bhreac past Loch a'Choire and up steep slopes to the summit ridge.’
    • ‘The upper strip, a cornice of fir trees etched against the sky; below the tinted mass of forest crowding down to the floor of the defile by the waters of the blue Arazas.’
    • ‘We explore Via Mala - a slitlike defile so narrow that only one traveler at a time could trace its gloomy medieval footpath.’
    • ‘In the time of David Thompson, the Salish ‘crossed the Mountains by a wide defile of easy passage, eastward of the Saleesh or Flathead Lake.’’
    • ‘One who does not know the topography of mountains and forests, ravines and defiles, wetlands and marshes cannot maneuver the army.’
    • ‘The task for each target is to suppress the enemy with the purpose of facilitating the attack through the defile.’
    • ‘Down on the floor of Hualapai Canyon we swung right and entered a gradually narrowing, slowly descending defile.’
    • ‘They may be laid forward of larger minefields, on road verges, or in defiles where men and vehicles will pass.’
    • ‘Shetland has been almost totally denuded while at least some remnants of ancient woodland remain on Orkney, hidden in deep defiles and remoter islands.’
    • ‘Habitually, the dismounted scouts would be let off the vehicle at least four kilometers from the defile, out of sight and sound of the enemy's suspected screen line.’
    • ‘Speaking of defiles: ever wonder how to get your force through a restrictive mountain pass?’
    • ‘The view is mind-boggling, with a precipitous drop into the defile of the Lairig Ghru, the great pass that splits the Cairngorms, linking Aviemore and Braemar.’
    • ‘We pull ourselves up through a stunted, moss - webbed forest to gain the lower Bigo Bog, a narrow defile between two walls of dark, wet granite.’
    • ‘Just south of the town he took position in a defile, facing south-east with the road through the Wittlewood forest at his back.’
    • ‘When fighting in the depths of enemy defenses the pressing sub-units concentrate on routing the enemy units defending roads and directions, defiles, narrow roads, and settlements.’
    • ‘Tanks, AT guns, and AT rocket launchers are commonly used at strong-points by troops defending road junctions, exits from valleys, gorges, tunnels, defiles, and crossings over mountain rivers.’
    • ‘In setting up fire pockets, an advantageous front line configuration is chosen, in gaps between strongholds, approaches to commanding heights, choke points, defiles, valleys, gorges, etc.’
    • ‘On the ground itself there is no defile, no gorge, no precipitous mountain pass, nothing which can remotely be called a Gap from the point of view of anybody on the ground.’
    • ‘The route to the village lies through the mile-long Alikhel gorge, a narrow defile that is perfect for an ambush - as the mujahideen had found against the Russians.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]archaic
  • (of troops) march in single file:

    ‘we emerged after defiling through the mountainsides’

Origin

Late 17th century: from French défilé (noun), défiler (verb), from dé away from + file column, file.

Pronunciation:

defile

/dɪˈfʌɪl/