Definition of defoliate in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘The adults and young feed on saltcedar leaves, repeatedly defoliating the tree and depriving it of nutrients.’
    • ‘Cereal leaf beetle larvae may defoliate small grain foliage in the spring.’
    • ‘They thrive in hot, dry weather and can defoliate a rose plant very quickly.’
    • ‘Gypsy moths can attack bur oak; oak lacebug can turn the leaves off-color, causing long-term stress that heavily defoliates bur oaks in shelterbelt plantings, especially during dry weather.’
    • ‘In severe cases, blackspot can severely defoliate a plant.’
    • ‘One thousand caterpillars eating leaves might completely defoliate a tree in two weeks, whereas that same number of aphids would hardly be noted.’
    • ‘A double oscillation is also a possibility, for example if the trees are defoliated by predators and then put out a second growth of leaves.’
    • ‘Caterpillars are known to defoliate coneflower plants.’
    • ‘But late blight attacks quickly and is capable of defoliating a field within a matter of weeks.’
    • ‘They are a voracious pest, and, as I can testify from a couple of years ago, can defoliate an entire bush overnight if left to their own devices.’
    • ‘Harris noted that defoliated plants could compensate for lost leaf area and increase in mass relative to non-defoliated plants.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The chemical was sprayed in large quantities from aircraft in a bid to defoliate the landscape and deny cover to enemy forces.’
    • ‘Much of the Vietnamese countryside was defoliated using poisons like Agent Orange, so toxic that even the soldiers who did the spraying suffered long-term damage to their health.’
    • ‘I have to admit that it has come to my garden in numbers that will defoliate plants.’
    • ‘Little leaf lindens will certainly be defoliated if Japanese beetles are in the area.’
    • ‘They escaped and established a colony that invaded all of the New England states, defoliating trees of many different kinds.’
    • ‘At 5 months, plants were partially defoliated or left intact.’
    • ‘Gypsy moth larvae have been defoliating huge areas of forest in New England since they were accidentally introduced in 1869.’
    • ‘The third step in forcing dormancy is to wait three or four days after spraying and completely defoliate the plant by pulling off the leaves.’
    bare, exposed, desolate, stark, arid, desert, denuded, lunar, open, empty, windswept
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Late 18th century: from late Latin defoliat- ‘stripped of leaves’, from the verb defoliare, from de- (expressing removal) + folium ‘leaf’.