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[dih-zur-tuh-fi-key-shuh n] /dɪˌzɜr tə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən/
noun, Ecology
the processes by which an area becomes a desert.
the rapid depletion of plant life and the loss of topsoil at desert boundaries and in semiarid regions, usually caused by a combination of drought and the overexploitation of grasses and other vegetation by people.
Also, desertization
[dez-er-tuh-zey-shuh n] /ˌdɛz ər təˈzeɪ ʃən/ (Show IPA)
Compare aridification.
Origin of desertification
1970-75; desert1 + -i- + -fication Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for desertification
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • desertification may intensify a general climatic trend toward greater aridity, or it may initiate a change in local climate.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • desertification does not occur in linear, easily mappable patterns.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • There is no consensus among researchers as to the specific causes, extent, or degree of desertification.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
  • The presence of a nearby desert has no direct relationship to desertification.

    Deserts A. S. Walker
British Dictionary definitions for desertification


a process by which fertile land turns into barren land or desert
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for desertification

1973, from desert (n.1) + -fication. In French, désertisation is attested from 1968.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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desertification in Science
The transformation of land once suitable for agriculture into desert. Desertification can result from climate change or from human practices such as deforestation and overgrazing.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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