AskDefine | Define etiolate

Dictionary Definition

etiolate adj : (especially of plants) developed without chlorophyll by being deprived of light; "etiolated celery" [syn: etiolated, blanched]


1 make weak by stunting the growth or development of
2 bleach and alter the natural development of (a green plant) by excluding sunlight
3 make pale or sickly; "alcohol etiolates your skin"

User Contributed Dictionary



French étolier, from Normandy French étieuler, ultimately from Old French estuble ‘stubble’, from Latin stupla, from stipula ‘straw, stubble’.


  • , /'i:tɪəleɪt/


  1. To make pale through lack of light, especially of a plant.
  2. To make a person pale and sickly-looking.
    • 1980: She was a very lovely woman in her late thirties, in a silk dress of screaming scarlet that would have etiolated a white woman to bled veal. — Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers
    • 1995: Gwynn and Richard were at the Westway Health and Fitness Centre, surrounded by thirty or forty etiolated drunks: playing snooker. — Martin Amis, i: theinformation

Extensive Definition

Etiolation occurs when plants are grown in either partial or complete absence of light, and is characterized by long, weak stems; smaller, sparser leaves due to longer internodes; and a pale yellow color (chlorosis). This is a mechanism to increase the likeliness that a plant will reach a light source, often from under leaf litter or underneath shade from competing plants. The growing tips are strongly attracted to light and will elongate towards it.
Chloroplasts that have not been exposed to light are called etioplasts; see also plastids
De-etiolation, on the other hand, is a series of physiological and biochemical changes a plant shoot undergoes in response to sunlight. This process is also known informally as greening. The changes triggered in the plant shoot all occur to make it ready to begin photosynthesis now that it is in sunlight.
Some of the changes that occur include:
  1. Inhibition of hypocotyl lengthening.
  2. Stimulation of cotyledon expansion.
  3. Opening of the apical hook.
  4. Stimulation of synthesis of anthocyanins.
  5. Stimulation of chloroplasts development from etioplasts.
This process is regulated by the exposure of various photoreceptors to light. Phytochrome A and phytochrome B both respond to an increasing propotion of red light to far-red light which occurs when the shoot comes out into the open. Cryptochrome 1 responds to increasing amounts of blue light when the shoot reachs the surface.


External links

etiolate in German: Etiolement
etiolate in Georgian: ეტიოლირებული მცენარეები
etiolate in Chinese: 黃化現象
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