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 institutionalization (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

Through the years, the Chute became institutionalized, although the idea of going back to the Carousel was brought up from time to time, Page said. Tom Fitzgerald,, "Even more twists and turns at Sonoma: The Carousel is back," 20 June 2019 He was institutionalized, but after several breakouts from Austin State Hospital, he was transferred to the maximum security Rusk State Hospital for the criminally insane and given shock treatments and Thorazine. Tom Maxwell, Longreads, "Remembering Roky Erickson," 7 June 2019 People who would have at one time been institutionalized are living in group homes. Yvonne Wenger, Washington Post, "Baltimore’s nightclub for disabled adults fosters love, friendship and inclusion," 4 June 2019 But one feature of the coaching philosophy institutionalized at his alma mater, Duke University, is the assertive polish of his media training. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "The Evolution of N.B.A.-Draft Fashion," 26 June 2019 These midcentury parties institutionalized relationships with professional and civic associations. Didi Kuo, Vox, "Challenges to parties in the United States and beyond," 20 June 2019 Two years later, the Nuremberg laws, which institutionalized the Nazis’ race theories, stripped Jews of their citizenship rights. Katrin Bennhold, New York Times, "Nazis Killed Her Father. Then She Fell in Love With One.," 14 June 2019 Just as any internet niche has institutionalized language, bookstagram bios will note CR (aka currently reading) then list the title. Felicity Loughrey, Town & Country, "Why Instagram Is a Great Place for Bookworms," 13 Apr. 2016 Republic of Spin, like all good histories, offers a warning about the present: Spin has been institutionalized, Greenberg suggests. The Atlantic, "What We’re Reading This Summer," 28 June 2019

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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Statistics for institutionalize

Last Updated

1 Aug 2019

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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-​ How to pronounce institutionalise (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 institutionalisation (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

Spanish Central: Translation of institutionalize

Nglish: Translation of institutionalize for Spanish Speakers

Comments on institutionalize

What made you want to look up institutionalize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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