1 : to cause to be or remain like an infant or young child
2 : to treat like an infant or young child
Even though Katie was a teenager, her grandmother still tended to infantilize her, bringing her dolls and other gifts more suitable for younger kids.
"Although I don't approve of holier-than-thou government officials trying to infantilize citizens by dictating to them what they can eat and drink, this kind of thing is hard to stop once it gets started." - From an opinion piece by Randy Scruggs in the Pulaski County Mirror (St. Robert, MO), June 20, 2012
Did You Know?
"Infantilize" is just a baby, relatively speaking, in the English language family. It first saw the light of day in the early 1930s, when social scientists started using it to discuss ways that humans or human activity can prolong or encourage dependency in other humans by treating them as helpless. The adjective "infantile," which gave birth to "infantilize," is far more mature, however-it's over 300 years old. "Infantile" sometimes literally means "relating to infants"-that is, to children in the first year of life-but it also has a broader meaning; if you chide someone's infantile behavior, you simply mean that the person is acting immaturely or childishly.
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Memory
What is the meaning of "burgeon," our Word of the Day from June 8? The answer is …