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 decriminalization (audio) , -​ˌkrim-​nəl-​ \ noun

Examples of decriminalize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The goal was to decriminalize a lot of informal businesses that already exist and encourage cooks to use their home kitchens as a stepping stone — cooks can gross a maximum of $50,000 per year off of 60 meals a week. Janelle Bitker,, "Alameda County just paved the way for more food pop-ups," 12 Oct. 2020 Harris leaned on her experience in the criminal justice system to call for extensive reform and pointed to Biden campaign proposals to ban police chokeholds, build a national registry of police misconduct, end cash bail, and decriminalize marijuana. Rey Mashayekhi, Fortune, "Where Harris and Pence won and lost in the vice presidential debate," 8 Oct. 2020 When legal efforts to decriminalize marijuana failed in federal courts, Mr. Zeese helped coordinate grass-root activism and ballot initiatives on a state and local level. Washington Post, "Kevin Zeese, activist for liberal causes and organizer of high-profile protests, dies at 64," 23 Sep. 2020 President Trump has pushed foreign nations to decriminalize homosexuality. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Trump’s Underappreciated Foreign Policy," 25 Sep. 2020 In 2019, then-U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell announced the Trump administration was launching a strategy to decriminalize homosexuality abroad. NBC News, "Joe Biden condemns Poland's 'LGBT-free zones'," 23 Sep. 2020 Descheduling cannabis at the federal level would effectively decriminalize it across the country, but individual states would still have the power to legalize it (or not) on their own. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What to Know About the MORE Act, the Bill That Would Deschedule Cannabis," 2 Sep. 2020 But Myers said Indiana should follow the lead of Prosecutor Mears, and decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Ryan Martin, The Indianapolis Star, "Marijuana, policing reform and 'Black lives matter': Where Holcomb and Myers differ on the issues," 18 Sep. 2020 The vote would have been the first measure to decriminalize marijuana to have come up on the House floor. Madeleine Ngo, WSJ, "House Democrats Postpone Vote on Decriminalizing Marijuana," 17 Sep. 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

19 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Decriminalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce decriminalize (audio)

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 decriminalization (audio) \ noun

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Nglish: Translation of decriminalize for Spanish Speakers

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