decolonize

verb
de·​col·​o·​nize | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈkä-lə-ˌnīz How to pronounce decolonize (audio) \
variants: also British decolonise
decolonized; decolonizing; decolonizes

Definition of decolonize

transitive verb

1 : to free (a people or area) from colonial status : to relinquish control of (a subjugated people or area) the year the country was decolonized The country faces international pressure to decolonize the territory.
2 : to free from the dominating influence of a colonizing power especially : to identify, challenge, and revise or replace assumptions, ideas, values, and practices that reflect a colonizer's dominating influence and especially a Eurocentric dominating influence To decolonise and not just diversify curriculums is to recognise that knowledge is inevitably marked by power relations. … A decolonised curriculum would bring questions of class, caste, race, gender, ability and sexuality into dialogue with each other, instead of pretending that there is some kind of generic identity we all share. — Priyamvada Gopal Per a statement, staff [at the University of Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum] have removed a total of 120 human remains from display, moving them to storage as part of a museum-wide effort to decolonize the Pitt Rivers' collections. — Nora McGreevy Decolonizing science will also involve encouraging Western institutions that hold imperial scientific collections to reflect more on the violent political contexts of war and colonization in which these items were acquired. An obvious step forward would be to discuss repatriating scientific specimens to former colonies, as botanists working on plants originally from Angola but held primarily in Europe have done. — Rohan Deb Roy Decolonizing my mind has been a continual process of rethinking the values that guide my actions. It's emotional, intellectual and spiritual labor that involves centering myself as an African-American woman and not allowing my entire existence to be a performance tailored for the white, cisgender male gaze … — JerVae (Jae Anthony)

Examples of decolonize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That means that in order to decolonize affirmation, there must be a sense of homecoming. Shayna Conde, Allure, 28 Feb. 2022 In the second part, which takes place 100 years later, an art student causes a small uproar while trying to decolonize her university through a performance that draws parallels between historical and contemporary colonial exploitation. Christopher Vourlias, Variety, 10 Feb. 2022 Marie is also now working to transform and decolonize the mental health industry at large. Ashley Simpson, Harper's BAZAAR, 18 June 2021 My work is an attempt to decolonize art history and challenge preconceived ideas about Indigenous people and our sexuality, and to create paintings that explore the missing narratives that were never depicted in the art history of this continent. New York Times, 23 Apr. 2021 Erica Jasmine Moon is a fitness instructor on the path to further decolonize the wellness space. Michella Oré, Glamour, 17 Nov. 2020 Per a statement, staff have removed a total of 120 human remains from display, moving them to storage as part of a museum-wide effort to decolonize the Pitt Rivers’ collections. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Sep. 2020 The Third World nationalists who came to power in decolonizing nations in the 1960s had only recently formed a stratum of colonial rule: lawyers, doctors, poets, and soldiers. Thomas Meaney, Harper's magazine, 20 Jan. 2020 Vietnam braided opposition to communism, itself a tenet of Cold War conflict, with democratic state-building in a decolonizing region. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 5 Jan. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of decolonize

1851, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About decolonize

Time Traveler for decolonize

Time Traveler

The first known use of decolonize was in 1851

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near decolonize

decolonization

decolonize

decolor

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for decolonize

Cite this Entry

“Decolonize.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decolonize. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!