Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To make filthy or dirty; pollute: defile a river with sewage.
  • transitive v. To debase the pureness or excellence of; corrupt: a country landscape that was defiled by urban sprawl.
  • transitive v. To profane or sully (a reputation, for example).
  • transitive v. To make unclean or unfit for ceremonial use; desecrate: defile a temple.
  • transitive v. To violate the chastity of.
  • intransitive v. To march in single file or in files or columns.
  • n. A narrow gorge or pass that restricts lateral movement, as of troops.
  • n. A march in a line.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to make impure; to make dirty.
  • n. A narrow way or passage, e.g. between mountains.
  • n. A single file, such as of soldiers.
  • v. To march in a single file.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To march off in a line, file by file; to file off.
  • transitive v. Same as defilade.
  • n. Any narrow passage or gorge in which troops can march only in a file, or with a narrow front; a long, narrow pass between hills, rocks, etc.
  • n. The act of defilading a fortress, or of raising the exterior works in order to protect the interior. See Defilade.
  • transitive v. To make foul or impure; to make filthy; to dirty; to befoul; to pollute.
  • transitive v. To soil or sully; to tarnish, as reputation; to taint.
  • transitive v. To injure in purity of character; to corrupt.
  • transitive v. To corrupt the chastity of; to debauch; to violate; to rape.
  • transitive v. To make ceremonially unclean; to pollute.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make unclean, dirty, or impure; soil; befoul.
  • Figuratively, to sully or tarnish, as reputation, etc.
  • To make ceremonially unclean.
  • To overcome the chastity of; debauch; violate; deflower.
  • To taint, in a moral sense; corrupt; vitiate; debauch; pollute.
  • Synonyms To contaminate, foul, stain, dirty. See taint, v. t.
  • To march off in a line, or by files; file off.
  • In fortification, same as defilade.
  • n. A narrow passage in a mountain region; a gorge through which a body of troops or other persons can pass in a file or narrow line.
  • n. A march by files.
  • n. Synonyms Gorge, Ravine, etc. See valley.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. spot, stain, or pollute
  • v. make dirty or spotty, as by exposure to air; also used metaphorically
  • v. place under suspicion or cast doubt upon
  • n. a narrow pass (especially one between mountains)

Etymologies

Middle English defilen, alteration (influenced by filen, to befoul, from Old English fȳlan; of defoulen, to trample on, abuse, pollute, from Old French defouler, to trample, full cloth : de-, de- + fouler, to trample, beat down; see full2.
French défiler : dé-, away, off (from Old French de-; see de-) + file, line, file (from Old French filer, to spin thread, march in line; see file1). N., from French défilé, from past participle of défiler.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English defilen ("to make dirty"), alteration (due to Middle English defoulen, defoilen ("to trample, abuse")) of Middle English befilen ("to defile, make foul"), from Old English befȳlan ("to befoul, defile"), from Proto-Germanic *bi- + *fūlijanan (“to defile, make filthy”). Cognate with Dutch bevuilen ("to defile, soil"). More at be-, file, foul. (Wiktionary)
Earlier defilee, French défilé, from défiler ("to march past"), from file ("file"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • That reached, compensation for the ugly scenery we had to pass through began when we entered a beautiful mountain defile, about two hours from Damascus.

    The Romance of Isabel, Lady Burton

  • The defile was a death trap, where huge pistons shot out and slammed across from side to side.

    Worldshaker

  • A jagged chasm ran across the cavern, and on the other side of the defile was a writhing sea of furred flesh and sharp teeth.

    Curse of the Shadowmage

  • Before us the defile was a slit which was half choked by rock falls from above.

    Year of the Unicorn

  • Scattered along the bottom of the defile were the men who had fallen at the first fire, and Sanderson's eye glinted with rage when he looked at them; for he recognized some of them as men of the outfit for whom he had conceived a liking.

    Square Deal Sanderson

  • Sapientum_ -- 'a fountain of abundant water, which no heats of summer can ever dry, which no flood can ever defile, which is as a water of life, to them that thirst for life, a stream of cleansing to them that would be pure, and a medicine of such healing virtue that by it, through the might of God and the intercession of His saints, the most grievous wounds are made whole. '

    The House of Souls

  • The points which it was necessary to take to command the defile were the town of Arcola and a bridge over the rapid stream on which the town day.

    The Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte

  • The ice is found in a narrow defile, which is hemmed in by perpendicular sides of trap-rock, and displays a perfect chaos of fallen blocks of stone.

    Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland

  • A large proportion of these were peace offerings, which afforded to the people the means of festive enjoyment. all Israel ... from the entering in of Hamath -- that is, the defile at

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

  • No explanations were forthcoming why the enemy should have allowed the force to pass through the defile, without obstruction, when a determined body of riflemen could have kept the whole of them at bay; for the artillery could not have been brought into position, as the defile was the most difficult, of its kind, that a British division had ever crossed.

    Through Three Campaigns A Story of Chitral, Tirah and Ashanti

Comments

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  • as in a narrow passage or gorge

    February 23, 2007