Entries linking to defrost
active word-forming element in English and in many verbs inherited from French and Latin, from Latin de "down, down from, from, off; concerning" (see de), also used as a prefix in Latin, usually meaning "down, off, away, from among, down from," but also "down to the bottom, totally" hence "completely" (intensive or completive), which is its sense in many English words.
As a Latin prefix it also had the function of undoing or reversing a verb's action, and hence it came to be used as a pure privative — "not, do the opposite of, undo" — which is its primary function as a living prefix in English, as in defrost (1895), defuse (1943), de-escalate (1964), etc. In some cases, a reduced form of dis-.
Old English forst, frost "frost, a freezing, frozen precipitation, extreme cold," from Proto-Germanic *frustaz "frost" (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German frost, Middle Dutch and Dutch vorst), from the verb *freusanan "to freeze" (source of Old English freosan "to freeze"), from suffixed form of PIE *preus- "to freeze; burn" (see freeze (v.)). Both forms of the word were common in English till late 15c.; the triumph of frost may be due to its similarity to the forms in other Germanic languages. A black frost (late 14c.) is one which kills plants (turns them black) but is not accompanied by visible frozen dew.