1570s, transitive, "to dry, deprive of moisture," from Latin desiccatus, past participle of desiccare "to make very dry," from de- "thoroughly" (see de-) + siccare "to dry" (see siccative). Intransitive sense of "become dry" is from 1670s. The Middle English translation of Chauliac (early 15c.) has a past-participle adjective desiccate "dried up." Related: Desiccated; desiccating.