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

Only use this on tough spots and sparingly so — vitamin C is highly acidic and can sensitize your skin if overused at this concentration. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Everything at Paula’s Choice Is on Sale Right Now," 13 June 2018 One view is that the increased amounts of CGRP released at the start of a migraine sensitize the trigeminal nerve to what are normally innocuous signals, resulting in inflammation in the nerves that is relayed to the brain as a pain signal. Emily Underwood, Science | AAAS, "Will antibodies finally put an end to migraines?," 18 May 2018 Following injection into the same area of the nervous system that the RNAs originated, the animal behaved as if it had been sensitized. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Researchers claim to have transferred a memory between two sea slugs," 16 May 2018 Our work revolves around sensitizing students and the new generation and arming them with knowledge. Dina Kraft, The Christian Science Monitor, "For still-stateless Palestinians, cultural life serves as a building block," 18 Apr. 2018 The pond virus killed off most of the bacteria and re-sensitized the survivors to antibiotics. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Virus fished from pond cures man’s deadly antibiotic-resistant infection," 20 Mar. 2018 My experience growing up as a Sikh in this country, and having dealt with bias, hate, and bullying has sensitized me to the effects that this conduct can have on others and motivates me a great deal. Jan Hefler,, "N.J.'s Gurbir Grewal, the nation's first Sikh attorney general, says American dream is alive and well," 1 Mar. 2018 While BlackRock was trying to sensitize companies to their social responsibilities, the letter could undermine the accountability of corporate directors to their shareholders. Robert C. Pozen, Fortune, "Commentary: The BlackRock Letter Sets Ambitious Goals. Here’s How CEOs Can Meet Them.," 9 Feb. 2018 The three players have grown de-sensitized to the drama that’s unfolded during their time with the program. Rolando Rosa, ajc, "Louisville star ready to silence doubters: ‘It kinda hurts to see how low we’re ranked’," 16 Nov. 2017

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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Statistics for sensitize

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Time Traveler for sensitize

The first known use of sensitize was in 1851

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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 sensitise (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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sensitize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sensitize

Spanish Central: Translation of sensitize

Nglish: Translation of sensitize for Spanish Speakers

Comments on sensitize

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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