in·sti·tu·tion·al·ize | \ˌin(t)-stə-ˈt(y)ü-shnə-ˌlīz, -shə-nə-ˌlīz\
institutionalized; institutionalizing

Definition of institutionalize 

transitive verb

1 : to make into an institution : give character of an institution to institutionalized housing especially : to incorporate into a structured and often highly formalized system institutionalized values

2 : to place in or commit to the care of a specialized institution (such as a psychiatric hospital) Thirty years ago doctors routinely advised parents to institutionalize children with Down syndrome and other disabilities …Parenting

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Other Words from institutionalize

institutionalization \ˌin(t)-stə-ˌt(y)ü-shnə-lə-ˈzā-shən, -shə-nə-lə-ˈzā- \ noun

Examples of institutionalize in a Sentence

It will take time to institutionalize these reforms. They had to institutionalize their youngest son. She was institutionalized for seven years.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The continuity and consistency of the forum helped institutionalize China’s multilateral cooperation with African states. Lina Benabdallah, Washington Post, "China-Africa military ties have deepened. Here are 4 things to know.," 6 July 2018 An angry mob spotted the blond and blue-eyed Biehl, and saw her as a symbol of apartheid, South Africa’s institutionalized racial segregation that began in 1948 and ended in 1994. Makeda Easter,, "An American scholar was killed in South Africa nearly 25 years ago. Today her legacy lives on through music," 4 July 2018 Trump’s executive order calling for DHS to detain parents and children together could end up being flummoxed by the courts, which have previously frowned on institutionalizing children when their parents break the law. Toluse Olorunnipa,, "Trump's Order on Family Separation: What It Does and Doesn't Do," 21 June 2018 Patients who died while institutionalized were buried there if relatives didn’t claim their bodies. Washington Post, "Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum," 23 May 2018 During a period apart from Elie, Jean-Baptiste suffers a nervous breakdown that results in his being institutionalized. Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "L’Enfant Secret is so intimate it feels like a confession," 25 May 2018 Campaign contributions were severely limited, the disclosure of donors was strictly mandated, and the Special Prosecutor Act was passed, in an effort to institutionalize the continued, nonpartisan monitoring of corruption in the federal government. Kevin Baker, The New Republic, "Why America needs truth and reconciliation after Trump," 17 May 2018 Toorak Chief Executive John Beacham said that left open an opportunity to institutionalize the business. Peter Rudegeair, WSJ, "Wall Street Is Getting In On the House Flipping Game," 13 May 2018 For inter-Korean affairs, Moon’s next step would be to institutionalize cooperation between the two Koreas. Hyuk Kim, Washington Post, "What will North and South Korean leaders talk about tomorrow? Here’s a cheat sheet.," 26 Apr. 2018

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

1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for institutionalize

The first known use of institutionalize was in 1865

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More Definitions for institutionalize


transitive verb
variants: or chiefly British institutionalise \ˌin(t)-stə-ˈt(y)ü-shnəl-ˌīz, -shən-ᵊl- \
institutionalized or chiefly British institutionalised; institutionalizing or chiefly British institutionalising

Medical Definition of institutionalize 

: to place in or commit to the care of a specialized institution Thirty years ago doctors routinely advised parents to institutionalize children with Down syndrome and other disabilities …Parenting, August 1994

Other Words from institutionalize

institutionalization or chiefly British institutionalisation \-ˌt(y)ü-shnəl-ə-ˈzā-shən, -ˌt(y)ü-shən-ᵊl- \ noun


transitive verb
in·sti·tu·tion·al·ize | \ˌin-stə-ˈtü-shə-nə-ˌlīz, -ˈtyü- \
institutionalized; institutionalizing

Legal Definition of institutionalize 

: to put in the care of an institution — compare commit

More from Merriam-Webster on institutionalize

Spanish Central: Translation of institutionalize

Nglish: Translation of institutionalize for Spanish Speakers

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