col·​o·​ni·​za·​tion | \ ˌkä-lə-nə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce colonization (audio) \
variants: also British
plural colonizations

Definition of colonization

1 : an act or instance of colonizing: such as
a : the establishing of a colony (see colony sense 1) : subjugation of a people or area especially as an extension of state power The news arrives at a time of debate over how museums should handle artifacts acquired through colonization and conquest.— Isis Davis-Marks "… in contrast to their earlier colonization of the Caribbean, the Spanish encountered highly urbanized civilizations in Mesoamerica and continually equated them with those of the Islamic and Greco-Roman Mediterranean."— David Carballo
b : migration to and settlement in an inhabited or uninhabited area the colonization of space/Mars
c(1) biology : the spread and development of an organism in a new area or habitat The colonization of land by eukaryotes probably was facilitated by a partnership (symbiosis) between a photosynthesizing organism … and a fungus.— Daniel S. Heckman et al.
(2) medical : the presence and multiplication of a microorganism (such as a bacterium) in or on a host or an inanimate object or surface It is important to reassess wounds frequently to determine if there is colonization of bacteria within the wound.Emergency Medicine Reports Adhesion to the intestinal epithelial cells is considered as necessary for probiotic microorganisms to colonize the large intestine, and colonization is important for beneficial health effects such as modulation of the immune system …— O. D. Amund … they significantly reduced the rate of bacterial colonization of the devices from 30% to 9% and cut the rate of infection in patients from 4% to 0.— Carol Potera
d : the act or practice of appropriating something that one does not own or have a right to … the pop culture discourse is more open to considering the fraught dynamic of Western colonization of music rooted in Africa than it's ever been.— Matthew Ismael Ruiz It's a strange objection from someone who rails against the growing blandness of New York—the chain stores and suburban sensibilities, the colonization by the rich, the boring, the feloniously ahistoric.— Ginia Bellafante
2 : the state of being colonized : subjugation by a foreign power "If I am fighting our struggle on Indigenous territories, then I must also understand and be in solidarity with Indigenous struggles against colonization. To imagine our freedom without first recognizing and fighting for Indigenous sovereignty is impossible."— El Jones

Other Words from colonization

colonizationist \ ˌkä-​lə-​nə-​ˈzā-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce colonization (audio) \ also British colonisationist noun, plural colonizationists

Examples of colonization in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But this is not reflected in America, because of colonization. Dw Gibson, The Atlantic, 20 May 2022 Though rice, garlic and bay leaf were introduced as part of Portugal's colonization in the 1500s, shrimp are a local delicacy for this coastal country in southeastern Africa. Casey Barber, CNN, 18 May 2022 Scientists hope to find possible signs of life and sufficient resources (like water) to support large-scale human colonization. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 17 May 2022 If not, space colonization is going to be a terribly expensive endeavor. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 15 May 2022 In this world, planetary colonization missions have become a necessity to help secure the survival of the human race. Carson Burton, Variety, 10 May 2022 Never mind that colonization occurred as part of a confluence of factors that included conflict between warring city-states and the unchecked spread of European diseases. Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2022 Ukraine’s colonization coincided with the Renaissance, and with a spectacular flowering of Polish culture. Timothy Snyder, The New Yorker, 28 Apr. 2022 The series follows the story of the unification and colonization of Hawaii from an indigenous point of view. NBC News, 6 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'colonization.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of colonization

1744, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of colonization was in 1744

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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Colonization.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on colonization

Nglish: Translation of colonization for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of colonization for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about colonization


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