Definition of desensitize
1 : to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agent
2 : to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically : to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli that formerly induced it
desensitizationplay \(ˌ)dē-ˌsen(t)-sə-tə-ˈzā-shən\ noun
desensitizerplay \(ˌ)dē-ˈsen-sə-ˌtī-zər\ noun
Examples of desensitize in a Sentence
The shot will help to desensitize the nerve.
Recent Examples of desensitize from the Web
The effect, to a child who is not desensitized enough, (sadly) can be detrimental.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desensitize'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Physical desensitizing is something that biologists have long been aware of. Basic training in the armed forces tries to desensitize new recruits to pain. We can desensitize ourselves to the summer heat by turning off the air conditioning, or become desensitized to the cold by walking barefoot in the snow. But desensitize is more often used when talking about negative emotions. Parents worry that their children will be desensitized to violence by playing video games. Soldiers may become desensitized to death on the battlefield. Desensitizing may be natural and desirable under some circumstances, but maybe not so good in others.
First Known Use of desensitize
DESENSITIZE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of desensitize for English Language Learners
: to cause (someone or something) to react less to or be less affected by something : to cause (someone or something) to be less sensitive
Medical Definition of desensitize
: to make less sensitive : reduce sensitivity in desensitize a nerve with a local anesthetic: asa: to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or nonreactive to a sensitizing agentb: to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli which formerly induced it : make emotionally insensitive evidence that violence on television desensitizes children to actual violence—Stephanie Harringtonc: to decrease a response (as of a cell receptor) progressively following prolonged exposure to a stimulus formation of cAMP was reduced significantly in desensitized cells and remained low in the continuous presence of agonist—S. M. Nilius et al
desensitisation\(ˌ)dē-ˌsen-sət-ə-ˈzā-shən, -ˌsen-stə-ˈzā-\play noun
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