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[mohlt] /moʊlt/
verb (used without object)
(of birds, insects, reptiles, etc.) to cast or shed the feathers, skin, or the like, that will be replaced by a new growth.
verb (used with object)
to cast or shed (feathers, skin, etc.) in the process of renewal.
an act, process, or an instance of molting.
something that is dropped in molting.
Origin of molt
1300-50; earlier mout (with intrusive -l-; cf. fault, assault), Middle English mouten, Old English -mūtian to change (in bi-mūtian to exchange for) < Latin mūtāre to change; see mutate
Related forms
molter, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for molt
  • If they are decent and smart and honest, they don't molt a feather over what kind of car the guy has.
  • Since many of the migratory songbirds and waterfowl molt in the fall, they are best observed and identified in the spring.
  • Most chickens molt once a year, usually during the fall or winter.
  • One molt per year, but seasonal variation pronounced.
  • Crabs begin to molt at the first sign of warm weather.
  • Intelligence might turn up anywhere it aids survival-in the use of protective coloring or the ability to molt, for instance.
  • Usually when adult birds molt, the new feathers have the same color as the old ones.
  • In studying muscle gene expression over molt cycle, the molt cycle will be divided into four main stages.
  • Alfalfa as a single dietary source for molt induction in laying hens.
  • Puffins have a synchronous primary molt and flightless period.
British Dictionary definitions for molt


verb, noun
the usual US spelling of moult


(of birds, mammals, reptiles, and arthropods) to shed (feathers, hair, skin, or cuticle)
the periodic process of moulting See also ecdysis
Derived Forms
moulter, (US) molter, noun
Word Origin
C14 mouten, from Old English mūtian, as in bimūtian to exchange for, from Latin mūtāre to change
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 molt

also moult, mid-14c., mouten, of feathers, "to be shed," from Old English *mutian "to change" (cf. bemutian "to exchange"), from Latin mutare "to change" (see mutable). Transitive sense, of birds, "to shed feathers" is first attested 1520s. With parasitic -l-, late 16c., on model of fault, etc. Related: Molted, moulted; molting, moulting. As a noun from 1815.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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molt in Medicine

molt (mōlt)
v. molt·ed, molt·ing, molts
To shed periodically part or all of a coat or an outer covering, such as feathers, cuticle, or skin, which is then replaced by a new growth. n.

  1. The act or process of molting.

  2. The material cast off during molting.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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molt in Science
To shed an outer covering, such as skin or feathers, for replacement by a new growth. Many snakes, birds, and arthropods molt.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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