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From Latin dēsiccāre (to dry completely, dry up) +‎ -ate (verb suffix indicating acting in the specified manner).[1] Dēsiccāre is derived from dēsiccō (to desiccate, dry up; to drain dry) (from dē- (prefix meaning ‘completely, to exhaustion’) + siccō (to dry; to drain, exhaust), from siccus (dry), from Proto-Indo-European *seyk-) + -āre.

The adjective is derived from Latin dēsiccātus (dried up),[2] the perfect passive participle of dēsiccō: see above. The noun is derived from the adjective.[3]



desiccate (third-person singular simple present desiccates, present participle desiccating, simple past and past participle desiccated)

  1. (transitive) To remove moisture from; to dry. [from late 16th c.]
    Synonyms: dehydrate, exiccate (obsolete), exsiccate, parch
    Antonyms: hydrate, moisten, moisturize, wet
    • 1631, [Francis Bacon], “IX. Century. [Experiment Solitary Touching the Two Kinds of Pneumaticals in Bodies.]”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] VVilliam Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], paragraph 842, page 215, OCLC 1044372886:
      [] As in Bodies deſsiccate, by Heat, or Age; For in them, when the Natiue Spirit goeth forth, and the Moiſture with it, the Aire with time getteth into the Pores.
    • 1876 February, Henry Gibbons, “Notes on the Climate of San Francisco and of California, with Special Relation to Pulmonary Disorders”, in Henry Gibbons and Henry Gibbons, Jr., editors, Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal, volume XVIII, number 9, San Francisco, Calif.: Bonnard & Daly, printers, [], OCLC 1013215999, page 403:
      Except on the borders of the ocean, and on the mountain sides where it deposits moisture in a visible form, the sea breeze has a drying effect. It desiccates the soil with rapidity.
    • 1924 July, Howard A[twood] Kelly; William Neill, Jr., “The Treatment of Tumors of the Bladder”, in Charles Wood Fassett, editor, The Medical Herald and Physiotherapist, volume XLIII, number 7, Kansas City, Mo.: [s.n.], OCLC 11745944, page 161, column 2:
      [George A.] Wyeth, who is also a first class surgeon, as well as urologist, has made use of the desiccation and endothermic method to destroy tumors in the bladder by making a suprapublic opening and then penetrating and desiccating the disease in an area all around the base of the tumor which is then undermined, desiccated, and removed.
    • 1970, Stanley B. Carpenter; Jay R. Bentley; Charles A. Graham, “Results”, in Moisture Contents of Brushland Fuels Desiccated for Burning (U.S.D.A. Forest Service Research Note; PSW-202), Berkeley, Calif.: Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, OCLC 45133583, page 4, column 2:
      At the time of spring burning in 1968 the leaves and small stems of standing manzanita plants had been thoroughly dessicated by the spray treatment first applied in November, 1966.
    • 1974 May, James O. Dealy; Arthur M. Killin, “Appendix B: Sampling and Analytical Techniques”, in Engineering and Cost Study of the Ferroalloy Industry (Publication; no. EPA-450/2-74-008), North Carolina: Office of Air and Waste Management, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Environmental Protection Agency, OCLC 1562182, page B-7, column 3:
      Transfer the acetone washings to a tared beaker and evaporate to dryness at ambient temperature and pressure. Desiccate and dry to a constant weight.
  2. (transitive) To preserve by drying. [from late 16th c.]
    • 1929 July, “Uncle Gib”, “Children’s Corner”, in Gibsonia Gazette[1], volume 3, number 8, Perth, W.A.: Issued by the House of Foy & Gibson, OCLC 437345932, archived from the original on 30 April 2019, page 6:
      The nuts are then passed into a double disc machine, and this travelling at a speed of 3,000 revolutions per minute desiccates the coconut.
    • 1975, Committee on Food Protection, Food and Nutrition Board, Division of Biological Sciences, Assembly of Life Sciences, National Research Council, “Nuts, Macaroni, and Noodle Products and Dry Blended Food”, in Prevention of Microbial and Parasitic Hazards Associated with Processed Foods: A Guide for the Food Processor, Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, →ISBN, page 71:
      All equipment used for removing the meat from the shell and for grinding, shredding, drying, classifying, and desiccating the coconut should be clean and free from pathogens.
  3. (intransitive, rare) To become dry; to dry up.
    • 1830 September 1, Thomas Spalding, “Sugar Cane, &c.: Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, in Reply to a Resolution of the House of Representatives of the 25th of January last, upon the Subject of the Cultivation of the Sugar Cane, and the Manufacture and Refinement of Sugar. [Doc. No. 62] [Letter from Thomas Spalding, Esq., dated Sapelo Island, near Darien, Containing Answers to Inquiries Respecting the Culture of the Sugar Cane, the Manufacture of Sugar, &c.]”, in Executive Documents of the House of Representatives, at the Second Session of the Twenty-first Congress, [], volume III, Washington, D.C.: Printed by Duff Green, published 1831, OCLC 13401553, page 40:
      Lately, in France, they stopped the boiling process in the preparation of brown sugar a few degrees before the point of crystallization, which is 243°, or 244°; and then spreading their syrup over their copper pans, placed round a stove or bake house, leave the syrup to desiccate slowly, and to crystallize in what they call the natural way; []
    • 1842, Erasmus Wilson, “Diseases of the Hairs and Hair-follicles”, in A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Diagnosis, Pathology, & Treatment of Diseases of the Skin: [], London: John Churchill, [], OCLC 969501221, pages 345–346:
      Favus is a chronic inflammation of the hair-follicles, associated with the production of a peculiar yellowish substance which surrounds the cylinder of the hair, and is seen through the epidermis as a minute circular spot, not raised above the level of the skin. The yellow substance, after a short period, escapes from the follicles upon the surface of the epidermis, and desiccates into yellowish friable crusts, forming a distinct cup with an inverted border, around the base of each hair.
    • 1846 October, “Preservation of Fruits”, in E[benezer] Emmons, A. Osborn, and O. C. Gardiner, editors, American Quarterly Journal of Agriculture and Science, volume IV, number VIII, New York, N.Y.: Huntington & Savage, [], OCLC 5461675, page 301–302:
      A dry atmosphere also preserves organic bodies from decay. This is exemplified in some parts of Texas and South America, where meat is readily preserved, though the country is warm if not hot. The fluids simply evaporate, and leave the harder parts to dessicate.[sic, meaning desiccate]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


desiccate (comparative more desiccate, superlative most desiccate)

  1. Having had moisture removed; dehydrated, dessicated.
    Synonym: dried
    • 1824 May 21, “Liolett”, “On Vegetable Revivification”, in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, volume III, number LXXXVIII, London: Printed and published by J[ohn] Limbird, [], published 12 June 1824, OCLC 728650805, page 388, column 1:
      It [the byssus fungus] is not only capable of propagation by the most minute fragments, however rudely detached, but it also retains the principle of revivification for years together when in a desiccate state.
    • 2016 August, Loretta Diane Walker, “Offsprings of Extremes [first published in Red River Review]”, in Barbara Blanks, editor, A Galaxy of Verse, volume 36, number 2, Garland, Tex.: A Galaxy of Verse Literary Foundation, published fall–winter 2016, →ISBN, page 89:
      How many years have you been here? / [] / Before a dessicate sky left rivers of cracks / in the belly of your red earth?



desiccate (plural desiccates)

  1. A substance which has been dessicated, that is, had its moisture removed.



  1. ^ Compare “desiccate, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1895; “desiccate”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  2. ^ desiccate, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1895
  3. ^ desiccate, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1972

Further reading[edit]





  1. second-person plural present active imperative of dēsiccō