ster·​il·​i·​za·​tion | \ ˌster-ə-lə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce sterilization (audio) \
plural sterilizations

Definition of sterilization

1 : the act or process of sterilizing: such as
a : the rendering of something free from viable microorganisms (as by the use of steam or dry heat) The hospital's standard method for cleaning surgical equipment is a five-step process that includes ultrasound, washing with detergents and enzymes, and sterilization in an autoclave.— Kay Lazar and Chelsea Conaboy Ethylene oxide … is a gas used widely to sterilize surgical equipment that can't tolerate steam sterilization.Science News
b : a procedure by which a living organism is made incapable of reproduction While I'm sure the pets aren't too keen on the procedure, sterilization avoids unwanted animals …, prevents some health problems in older pets, and helps to prevent aggressive behavior that some owners might use as a reason for euthanasia or abuse.— Jil McIntosh The sterile insect technique … is a species-specific and environmentally nonpolluting method of insect control that relies on the mass rearing, sterilization, and release of large numbers of insects.— Dean D. Thomas et al. According to the 1995 Canadian Contraception Study, vasectomy has overtaken tubal ligation in every province except the Maritimes as the preferred method of sterilization.— Michael Jabri-Picket Under the law upheld by the Supreme Court in 1927, the state of Virginia continued to perform forced, involuntary sterilizations until 1972.— Laurence H. Tribe
2 : the condition of one that is sterile or sterilized Once used as an antimalarial drug in World War II, quinacrine is known to cause irreversible sterilization— Praful Bidwai

First Known Use of sterilization

1826, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of sterilization was in 1826

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Cite this Entry

“Sterilization.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on sterilization

Nglish: Translation of sterilization for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sterilization for Arabic Speakers


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