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

Definition of institutionalize

transitive verb

1 : to make into an institution : give character of an institution to especially : to incorporate into a structured and often highly formalized system … he has tried to institutionalize the bank's practices so that it can carry on when he no longer leads it. — Bruce Shenitz In 2005, The New York Times revealed a set of NSA surveillance programs that, though considered shocking at the time, have since been institutionalized. — David Brown
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 How to pronounce institutionalize (audio) , -​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 America does not have to institutionalize racist voter suppression policies every time Black candidates threaten White power. Peniel E. Joseph, CNN, 16 June 2021 Some companies institutionalize the pursuit of good ideas. Janine Maclachlan, Forbes, 26 June 2021 The plaintiffs here are fighting back against a school district that wants to institutionalize the view that America is systemically racist. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 9 June 2021 Mexican American studies, for example, an in-demand class for many Texas high school students, is all about connecting the past to the present, said Juan Carmona, a Rio Grande Valley teacher who pushed to institutionalize the course. Washington Post, 2 June 2021 His latest move is to institutionalize the ACT-Accelerator as the central organizing institution in future pandemics. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, 12 Apr. 2021 To make a more permanent system of deposit insurance for prime money funds, Congress should create an FDIC-like agency for prime-money funds that would more permanently institutionalize the AMLF and MMLF facilities of 2008 and 2020. Jon Hartley, National Review, 30 Mar. 2021 Francis amended the law to formalize and institutionalize what is common practice in many parts of the world: Women can be installed as lectors, to read Scripture, and serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Nicole Winfield, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2021 Perhaps most significantly, Biden’s actions aimed to institutionalize the mitigation of climate change as a priority in the daily workings of the federal bureaucracy. Ben Ehrenreich, The New Republic, 18 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for institutionalize

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The first known use of institutionalize was in 1865

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Last Updated

12 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Institutionalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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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-​ How to pronounce institutionalize (audio) \
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-​ How to pronounce institutionalize (audio) \ noun


transitive verb
in·​sti·​tu·​tion·​al·​ize | \ ˌin-stə-ˈtü-shə-nə-ˌlīz, -ˈtyü- How to pronounce institutionalize (audio) \
institutionalized; institutionalizing

Legal Definition of institutionalize

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

More from Merriam-Webster on institutionalize

Nglish: Translation of institutionalize for Spanish Speakers


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