Indeed, in the early 1770s, the movement of people westward was so large that it threatened to depopulate Britain.
For full access to a genuine voice, Hemingway argues that a writer must depopulate his or her world, physically or metaphysically.
1540s; see de- + populate. Perhaps from Latin depopulatus, past participle of depopulari "to lay waste, ravage." Related: Depopulated; depopulating. Earlier in same sense was dispeplen (early 15c.).