verb (used without object)
- (of birds, insects, reptiles, etc.) to cast or shed the feathers, skin, or the like, that will be replaced by a new growth.
verb (used with object)
- to cast or shed (feathers, skin, etc.) in the process of renewal.
- an act, process, or an instance of molting.
- something that is dropped in molting.
- the usual US spelling of moult
v.also moult, mid-14c., mouten, of feathers, “to be shed,” from Old English *mutian “to change” (cf. bemutian “to exchange”), from Latin mutare “to change” (see mutable). Transitive sense, of birds, “to shed feathers” is first attested 1520s. With parasitic -l-, late 16c., on model of fault, etc. Related: Molted, moulted; molting, moulting. As a noun from 1815. v.
- To shed periodically part or all of a coat or an outer covering, such as feathers, cuticle, or skin, which is then replaced by a new growth.
- The act or process of molting.
- The material cast off during molting.
- To shed an outer covering, such as skin or feathers, for replacement by a new growth. Many snakes, birds, and arthropods molt.