de·​crim·​i·​nal·​ize | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈkri-mə-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) , -ˈkrim-nəl- \
decriminalized; decriminalizing; decriminalizes

Definition of decriminalize

transitive verb

: to remove or reduce the criminal classification or status of especially : to repeal a strict ban on while keeping under some form of regulation decriminalize the possession of marijuana

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Other Words from decriminalize

decriminalization \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌkri-​mə-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) , -​ˌkrim-​nəl-​ \ noun

Examples of decriminalize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web While the Red Cross says people living with HIV should not donate blood, the bill would decriminalize such donations. Washington Post, 26 Feb. 2021 The bill to decriminalize possession of certain drug paraphernalia was focused mostly on hypodermic needles. Washington Post, 28 May 2021 The bill to decriminalize syringes passed the House of Delegates by a veto-proof margin, but the final vote in the state Senate fell one vote shy of the veto-proof threshold. Pamela Wood,, 26 May 2021 The House and Senate are currently considering legislation that would decriminalize trespassing along a 10-foot swath of sand on the Rhode Island coast., 6 May 2021 Recently, California state Senator Scott Wiener introduced legislation to decriminalize the use and possession of a spate of psychedelic drugs, LSD among them. John Semley, The New Republic, 8 Mar. 2021 Oregon recently became the first state to decriminalize small amounts of hard drugs, even heroin and cocaine. Juan Montes, WSJ, 29 Dec. 2020 The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act is comprehensive legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, reassess marijuana convictions, and invest in local communities. Laura Furr Mericas, Chron, 5 Dec. 2020 Oregonians this fall will decide whether to decriminalize drugs like heroin and methamphetamine as part of a ballot measure that also would redirect millions in marijuana tax revenue to substance abuse screening and programs to address addiction. oregonlive, 11 Oct. 2020

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

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First Known Use of decriminalize

1969, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for decriminalize

Time Traveler

The first known use of decriminalize was in 1969

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Statistics for decriminalize

Last Updated

22 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decriminalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for decriminalize



English Language Learners Definition of decriminalize

: to make (something that is illegal) legal by changing the law


transitive verb
de·​crim·​i·​nal·​ize | \ dē-ˈkri-mən-ᵊl-ˌīz How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) \
decriminalized; decriminalizing

Legal Definition of decriminalize

: to remove or reduce the criminal classification or status of

Other Words from decriminalize

decriminalization \ dē-​ˌkri-​mən-​ᵊl-​ə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on decriminalize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decriminalize

Nglish: Translation of decriminalize for Spanish Speakers


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