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

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Other Words from infantilize

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

Did You Know?

Infantilize is just a baby, relatively speaking, in the English language family. It first saw the light of day in the early 1940s, when social scientists started using it to discuss ways that humans or human activity can prolong or encourage dependency in other humans by treating them as helpless. The adjective "infantile," which gave birth to "infantilize," is far more mature, however - it's over 300 years old. "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 I chide someone for his or her infantile behavior I simply mean that the person is acting immature or childish.

Examples of infantilize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The ash barrels lining the street and the ramshackle buildings and the friendly visitors to the poor dominate and infantilize them. Longreads, "A Minor Figure," 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, "Letters to the Editor," 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, "Donald Trump, “Free Range Chicken”," 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, "When Talking Canines Took Over New York," 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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Time Traveler for infantilize

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The first known use of infantilize was in 1931

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Cite this Entry

“Infantilize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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