sen·​si·​tize | \ ˈsen(t)-sə-ˌtīz How to pronounce sensitize (audio) \
sensitized; sensitizing

Definition of sensitize

transitive verb

: to make sensitive or hypersensitive

intransitive verb

: to become sensitive

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Other Words from sensitize

sensitizer noun

Examples of sensitize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There, the bits of genetic material cause cells to produce proteins that cannot cause disease but can sensitize and educate the immune system. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "A Vaccine Against COVID-19 Would Be the Latest Success in a Long Scientific History," 15 May 2020 The distinctions between pain types are not clean: If left untreated, nociceptive pain may sensitize the nervous system, turning a temporary problem into chronic, nociplastic pain, for example. Amber Dance, Scientific American, "The Unexpected Diversity of Pain," 20 Jan. 2020 With its tradition of presidential contenders meeting face-to-face with residents in relatively intimate settings, New Hampshire has a history of sensitizing candidates to the matters that are on its voters' minds. Amy Goldstein, Anchorage Daily News, "New Hampshire voters push Democratic candidates on health care," 10 Feb. 2020 Research has shown that the use of products with larger amounts of witch hazel over time can have drying and sensitizing effects on the skin. Nia Decaille, Washington Post, "A guide to the confusing and sometimes controversial ingredients in your cosmetics," 7 Feb. 2020 Roth, 75, suggested putting the carnival on probation for several years while the city tried to sensitize locals to racial stereotypes. Cnaan Liphshiz,, "Belgian parade that mocked Jews gives up its UNESCO endorsement," 4 Dec. 2019 Stopping any of the inciting causes including aggressive shaving, sensitizing deodorants, lotions, fabric detergents or fragrances and tight clothing are key. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "Dr. Michelle Henry Talks How To Treat Underarm Hyperpigmentation, Milia And More," 16 Oct. 2019 Inflammation from sensitizing deodorants, lotions, fabric detergents or fragrances can cause hyperpigmentation. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "Dr. Michelle Henry Talks How To Treat Underarm Hyperpigmentation, Milia And More," 16 Oct. 2019 There is no question that parenthood sensitizes adults to all of the risks surrounding their children. The Oregonian/oregonlive, al, "Ask Amy: New mother is petrified of losing it all," 1 May 2019

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

1851, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for sensitize

sensitive + -ize

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Time Traveler for sensitize

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The first known use of sensitize was in 1851

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Cite this Entry

“Sensitize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for sensitize



English Language Learners Definition of sensitize

: to make (someone) more aware of something
medical : to cause (someone) to become sensitive to a substance and to react to it in a bad way


transitive verb
variants: also British sensitise \ ˈsen(t)-​sə-​ˌtīz How to pronounce sensitize (audio) \
sensitized also British sensitised; sensitizing also British sensitising

Medical Definition of sensitize

: to make sensitive or hypersensitive the patient was sensitized to the drug

More from Merriam-Webster on sensitize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sensitize

Nglish: Translation of sensitize for Spanish Speakers

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