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[dih-fahyl] /dɪˈfaɪl/
verb (used with object), defiled, defiling.
to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute; taint; debase.
to violate the chastity of.
to make impure for ceremonial use; desecrate.
to sully, as a person's reputation.
Origin of defile1
1275-1325; Middle English defilen, defelen, alteration of defoilen (by association with filen to file3) < Anglo-French, Old French defouler to trample on, violate; compare Old English befȳlan to befoul
Related forms
defilable, adjective
defilement, noun
defiler, noun
defilingly, adverb
nondefilement, noun


[dih-fahyl, dee-fahyl] /dɪˈfaɪl, ˈdi faɪl/
any narrow passage, especially between mountains.
verb (used without object), defiled, defiling.
to march in a line or by files.
1675-85; < French défilé, noun use of past participle of défiler to file off; see defilade Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for defile
  • Cape Wind opponents argue the turbines will defile a pristine body of water.
  • It features a soft rubber nub so it won't defile your screen.
  • Those conference tables which defile the human spirit must be overturned.
  • Kafka's characters are both defiled and enraptured by the world.
  • This is how everything is presented internally: it is always a great victory against a hideous enemy who wants to defile purity.
  • He saw them enter a defile in the hills and then they were out of sight, and again he wished that he could have gone.
  • Robin squinted sceptically into the empty sun-struck defile.
  • So, do not defile your barbecue with so-called barbecue sauce.
  • Beyond the beachhead, a marshy plain led to a defile in the mountains.
  • To say that these are immoral because they defile our true selves-our isolated, distinct minds-is to ignore biology.
British Dictionary definitions for defile


verb (transitive)
to make foul or dirty; pollute
to tarnish or sully the brightness of; taint; corrupt
to damage or sully (someone's good name, reputation, etc)
to make unfit for ceremonial use; desecrate
to violate the chastity of
Derived Forms
defilement, noun
defiler, noun
Word Origin
C14: from earlier defoilen (influenced by filen to file³), from Old French defouler to trample underfoot, abuse, from de- + fouler to tread upon; see full²


/ˈdiːfaɪl; dɪˈfaɪl/
a narrow pass or gorge, esp one between two mountains
a single file of soldiers, etc
(mainly military) to march or cause to march in single file
Word Origin
C17: from French défilé, from défiler to file off, from filer to march in a column, from Old French: to spin, from fil thread, from Latin fīlum
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for defile

c.1400, "to desecrate, profane;" mid-15c., "to make foul or dirty," alteration of earlier defoulen, from Old French defouler "trample down, violate," also "ill-treat, dishonor," from de- "down" (see de-) + foler "to tread," from Latin fullo "person who cleans and thickens cloth by stamping on it" (see foil (v.)).

The alteration (or re-formation) in English is from influence of Middle English filen (v.) "to render foul; make unclean or impure," literal and figurative, from Old English fylen (trans.), related to Old English fulian (intrans.) "to become foul, rot," from the source of foul (adj.). Cf. befoul, which also had a parallel form befilen. Related: Defiled; defiling.


"narrow passage," 1640s, especially in a military sense, "a narrow passage down which troops can march only in single file," from French défilé, noun use of past participle of défiler "march by files" (17c.), from de- "off" (see de-) + file "row," from Latin filum "thread" (see file (v.)). The verb in this sense is 1705, from French défiler.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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