from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To remove (a layer of bark or skin, for example) in flakes or scales; peel.
  • intransitive verb To cast off in scales, flakes, or splinters.
  • intransitive verb To come off or separate into flakes, scales, or layers.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To throw off scales or flakes; peel off in thin fragments; desquamate: as, the exfoliating bark of a tree.
  • Specifically In surgery, to separate and come off in scales, as carious bone.
  • In mineralogy, to split into scales; especially, to become scaly at the surface in consequence of heat or decomposition: as, vermiculite exfoliates before the blowpipe.
  • To scale; free from scales or splinters.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To remove scales, laminæ, or splinters from the surface of.
  • intransitive verb To separate and come off in scales or laminæ, as pieces of carious bone or of bark.
  • intransitive verb (Min.) To split into scales, especially to become converted into scales at the result of heat or decomposition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To remove the leaves from a plant.
  • verb To remove a layer of skin, as in cosmetic preparation.

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

  • verb grow by producing or unfolding leaves
  • verb cast off in scales, laminae, or splinters
  • verb come off in a very thin piece
  • verb spread by opening the leaves of
  • verb remove the surface, in scales or laminae


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

[Latin exfoliāre, exfoliāt-, to strip of leaves : ex-, ex- + folium, leaf; see bhel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From exfoliāt-, the perfect passive participial stem of the Late Latin exfoliō ("I strip of leaves"), from ex ("out of”, “from") + folium ("leaf"); compare effoliate and the French exfolier.


  • Maybe I'll take some high-grade sandpaper into the shower and "exfoliate" until most of my skin falls off.

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  • Maybe I'll take some high-grade sandpaper into the shower and "exfoliate" until most of my skin falls off.

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  • ( "exfoliate," I should say, mineralogically) always into something else, -- though that's my fault more than yours; but I must go straight on now.

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  • I don't exfoliate as much as I should because I'm lazy (it supposedly helps the skin absorb moisture and preps for self tan—plus it just feels good), but when I do I use Bliss' Lemon + Sage Body Scrub (from £28) or the Body Shop's Pink Grapefruit Body Scrub (from £5).

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  • If, like me, you are a fan of Eve Lom's cleansing routine (£30), which requires a muslin face cloth, then you are already ticking the exfoliate and cleanse boxes (you could also use a flannel and something like Mama Mio's Clean Slate, £22.50).

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  • But I was getting good at sleeping in and rubbing sand onto my shins to exfoliate what was dead, and that counted for something.


  • If you have sensitive skin, you may want to exfoliate and shave your legs a day before using self-tanner, she says.3.

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  • To get dry, flaky skin prepped for summer exposure, gently exfoliate to give the skin a smoother and brighter appearance.

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  • May 19, 2009 at 3: 17 PM • Coffee grounds act as a natural exfoliate.

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  • That mothers hate her, and Schiffer, because now they've got to get up at 4.30 every morning to shower, exfoliate, buff, varnish and pluck, before they schlep to drop-off, Spanx-ed to within an inch of their lives and sporting this season's excruciating heels.

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