1. Plant Pathology.
    1. the rapid and extensive discoloration, wilting, and death of plant tissues.
    2. a disease so characterized.
  2. any cause of impairment, destruction, ruin, or frustration: Extravagance was the blight of the family.
  3. the state or result of being blighted or deteriorated; dilapidation; decay: urban blight.

verb (used with object)

  1. to cause to wither or decay; blast: Frost blighted the crops.
  2. to destroy; ruin; frustrate: Illness blighted his hopes.

verb (used without object)

  1. to suffer blight.


  1. any plant disease characterized by withering and shrivelling without rottingSee also potato blight
  2. any factor, such as bacterial attack or air pollution, that causes the symptoms of blight in plants
  3. a person or thing that mars or prevents growth, improvement, or prosperity
  4. an ugly urban district
  5. the state or condition of being blighted or spoilt


  1. to cause or suffer a blight
  2. (tr) to frustrate or disappoint
  3. (tr) to spoil; destroy

1610s, origin obscure; according to OED it emerged into literary speech from the talk of gardeners and farmers, perhaps ultimately from Old English blæce, blæcðu, a scrofulous skin condition and/or from Old Norse blikna “become pale.” Used in a general way of agricultural diseases, sometimes with suggestion of “invisible baleful influence;” hence figurative sense of “anything which withers hopes or prospects or checks prosperity” (1828). Cf. slang blighter. Urban blight attested by 1935.


“afflict with blight,” 1660s (implied in blighted), from blight (n.). Figurative use by 1712. Related: Blighted; blighting.

  1. Any of numerous plant diseases that cause leaves, stems, fruits, and tissues to wither and die. Rust, mildew, and smut are blights.
  2. The bacterium, fungus, or virus that causes such a disease.
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