san·​i·​tize | \ ˈsa-nə-ˌtīz How to pronounce sanitize (audio) \
sanitized; sanitizing

Definition of sanitize

transitive verb

1 : to reduce or eliminate pathogenic agents (such as bacteria) on the surfaces of (something) : to make (something) sanitary (as by cleaning or disinfecting) You can use sponges and dishcloths safely if you take care to sanitize them, says Dean Cliver, a professor of food safety at the University of California, Davis.— Nick Gallo City Sanitarian Lauri Sorel said no soot was found and restaurants only had to sanitize food service surfaces with a mixture of bleach and water.The Springfield (Massachusetts) Union-News He had every store and delivery truck sanitized, and he set up a department to make unannounced health inspections of stores, vowing to temporarily shut down any slackers for cleanup.— Suzanne Hoppough
2 : to make (something, such as text) more acceptable by removing, hiding, or minimizing any unpleasant, undesirable, or unfavorable parts The memories—and memoirs—of former intelligence hands tend to be selective as well as sanitized, either by the author or by some form of official censorship or both, and the historian must be wary.— Ian Black and Benny Morris They were also forced to "sanitize" reports that might show early church leaders or the official doctrine in a dim light.— Robert Lindsey Once "friended" by a colleague, people feel compelled to employ privacy features—which itself can be a snub—or to sanitize their online profiles—which is akin to hiding something under the bed.— Jared Sandberg Published in Munich in 1987, the diaries are a major tool of that school of historians whose purpose is to relativize, normalize, sanitize the crimes of the Third Reich.— Peter Padfield And the movie sanitizes his behavior as well. (It manages to suggest that he's a philanderer without ever once showing him with another woman.)Entertainment Weekly … civilian casualties are referred to as "collateral damage"—a stunningly abstract and sanitized way to refer to mangled human bodies.— Carol E. Cohn

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Other Words from sanitize

sanitization \ ˌsa-​nə-​tə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce sanitize (audio) \ noun

Examples of sanitize in a Sentence

The housekeeping staff sanitized the bathroom. They're trying to sanitize the news.
Recent Examples on the Web Also, library staff continues to stop once per hour to clean and sanitize their work stations and service desks, while high-touch public areas are cleaned and sanitized multiple times a day. John Benson, cleveland, "Lakewood Public Library expands hours, adds Chromebooks for patron use," 3 Dec. 2020 Outdoor playgrounds can remain open with folks encouraged to wash their hands or sanitize often. Meredith Colias-pete,, "Lake County hands out new COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, bars," 25 Nov. 2020 Wash or sanitize your hands after touching or removing the mask. Pamela M. Aaltonen, The Conversation, "As CDC warns against Thanksgiving travel, here are a dozen more things you can do to help stop COVID-19," 19 Nov. 2020 Try to minimize your contact with surfaces, such as door handles, though the key is to thoroughly wash or sanitize your hands after touching anything. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, "7 Ways to Stay Safe When You’re on a Family Road Trip in the Future," 19 Nov. 2020 Elections workers are to encourage social distancing, use personal protective equipment, sanitize stations and take other measures to prevent the virus from spreading among voters. Rick Rouan, The Enquirer, "Before you go to the polls Election Day, here's what you need to know to vote in Ohio," 2 Nov. 2020 For those who wish to vote in-person, they're asked to wear a mask, bring a pen, follow social distancing guidelines, and to wash or sanitize their hands before and after voting. Brooke Newman, The Arizona Republic, "Tuesday is last recommended day to mail early ballots; drop-off locations still open," 27 Oct. 2020 Visitors should maintain a distance between themselves and other groups visiting the park, wear a face covering when social distancing cannot be maintained, and to frequently wash and sanitize their hands. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "Yosemite to Eliminate Reservation System Starting Nov. 1," 30 Sep. 2020 Wash or sanitize hands before and after using the playground. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Playgrounds come back on-line as county doubles down on testing," 30 Sep. 2020

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

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sanitize

Latin sanitas

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Time Traveler for sanitize

Time Traveler

The first known use of sanitize was in 1836

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Statistics for sanitize

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sanitize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for sanitize


How to pronounce sanitize (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sanitize

: to make (something) free from dirt, infection, disease, etc., by cleaning it : to make (something) sanitary
often disapproving : to make (something) more pleasant and acceptable by taking things that are unpleasant or offensive out of it
variants: also British sanitise \ ˈsan-​ə-​ˌtīz How to pronounce sanitize (audio) \
sanitized also British sanitised; sanitizing also British sanitising

Medical Definition of sanitize

: to make sanitary (as by cleaning or sterilizing) sanitize all surfaces with a solution of bleach and water

Other Words from sanitize

sanitization also British sanitisation \ ˌsan-​ət-​ə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce sanitize (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on sanitize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sanitize

Nglish: Translation of sanitize for Spanish Speakers

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