in·​fan·​til·​ize | \ in-ˈfan-tə-ˌlīz How to pronounce infantilize (audio) , ˈin-fən-tə-ˌlīz, -fən-ˌtī-ˌlīz How to pronounce infantilize (audio) \
infantilized; infantilizing

Definition of infantilize

transitive verb

1 : to make or keep infantile
2 : to treat as if infantile

Other Words from infantilize

infantilization \ in-​ˌfan-​tə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən , ˌin-​fən-​ˌtī-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce infantilize (audio) , -​fən-​tə-​ \ noun

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Infantilize is just a baby, relatively speaking. It first saw the light of day in the early 1900s, when social scientists started using the term to discuss the ways in which treating humans as helpless can prolong or encourage their dependency on others. The adjective infantile, which gave birth to infantilize, is far more mature: it dates to the 17th century. Infantile sometimes literally means "relating to infants"—that is, to children in the first year of life—but it also has a broader meaning. If you chide someone for their infantile behavior, you rebuke the person for acting immaturely or childishly.

Examples of infantilize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His position that nanny-state efforts to override markets infantilize the governed by precluding decision makers’ responses to prices is consistent with his position that government lacks the information needed to manage scarcity. Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2021 All of this impacts the bottom line: When leaders infantilize those reporting to them, there’s no room left for risk-taking or learning from mistakes. Lisa Schmidt, Forbes, 21 May 2021 The ash barrels lining the street and the ramshackle buildings and the friendly visitors to the poor dominate and infantilize them. Longreads, 20 July 2019 Yet both Chozick and Alter refer to Clinton by her first name alone — a practice long used to dismiss and infantilize the person being named. New York Times, 18 May 2018 In other offspring news, the president managed to degrade and infantilize what is by all accounts his favorite child. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, 10 Sep. 2017 Instead, the modern era is full of clichéd memes of wise owls and adorable otters superimposed with slogans that infantilize or spread misinformation about actual animal behavior. Jeff Vandermeer, The Atlantic, 9 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'infantilize.' 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 infantilize

1931, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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The first known use of infantilize was in 1931

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Infantilize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.

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