tr.v. de·plet·ed, de·plet·ing, de·pletes
1. To consume or reduce to a very low amount; use up: drought that depleted the stores of grain.
2. To remove the contents or important elements of; empty out or exhaust: overfishing that depleted the lake of trout; farming practices that depleted the soil of nutrients.
[Latin dēplēre, dēplēt-, to empty : dē-, de- + plēre, to fill; see pelə-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: deplete, drain, exhaust, sap1
These verbs mean to use up something important that is hard to replace. Deplete refers to gradually consuming something essential: Medical bills quickly depleted our savings. To drain is to draw down a resource or supply to a critical level: War often drains a nation's economy. Exhaust stresses depletion to a point of emptiness or uselessness: "The Depression had exhausted the capacity of private charities and state and local governments to cope with the needs of millions of unemployed Americans" (Patrick Maney).
Sap suggests a slow loss of something vital: "The [ivory] trade certainly sapped labor from farming and disrupted village life" (Eric Scigliano).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.