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 Groups return the bucket and supplies when they are finished so the staff can sanitize them and restock them for the next use. Katie V. Jones,, "Laurel City Council member Carl DeWalt billed by city for volunteer cleanup," 13 May 2021 District Superintendent Clark Burke watched as the students — almost universally masked — moved across the campus during their 10-minute passing period, extended to give teachers time to sanitize student work areas. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, "This Northern California school district reopened classrooms five months ago. The results may surprise you," 12 Apr. 2021 Old soil and plant material should be cleaned out; the soil can be spread around the garden, and pots can be scrubbed with a bleach solution to sanitize them and send any slugs on their way. Washington Post, "How to help plants thrive in spring, the garden’s most exciting and perilous season," 17 Mar. 2021 This year, ashes will be distributed every other hour at San Fernando Cathedral to allow time to repeatedly sanitize the sanctuary. Candice Avila-garcia, San Antonio Express-News, "No crosses on foreheads - Ash Wednesday will look different this year," 2 Feb. 2021 These facilities shut down to sanitize and modify their training practices in order to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 safety guidelines. Tawney Beans, The Enquirer, "COVID-19 fallout: UC Air Force ROTC faces setbacks amid pandemic," 11 Apr. 2021 Recognizing the threat of rapid spread of contagion among the crowds, the British government attempted to sanitize and control the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims at the Kumbh. Tulasi Srinivas, The Conversation, "India prepares for Kumbh Mela, world’s largest religious gathering, amid COVID-19 fears," 8 Apr. 2021 While every precaution will be taken by schools to sanitize and prevent the spread of disease, Anderson said kids still will be touching objects around school desks, on the playground or on the bus. Rafael Guerrero,, "Relaxed restrictions in Naperville not a reason to quit wearing masks or washing hands, health expert says," 3 Apr. 2021 But he was singled out for asking management to sanitize the warehouse and be more transparent about positive Covid cases. NBC News, "Fired, interrogated, disciplined: Amazon warehouse organizers allege year of retaliation," 30 Mar. 2021

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 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sanitize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for sanitize



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


transitive verb
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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