ster·​il·​ize | \ ˈster-ə-ˌlīz \
sterilized; sterilizing

Definition of sterilize

transitive verb

: to make sterile: such as
a : to cause (land) to become unfruitful
b(1) : to deprive of the power of reproducing surgically sterilize cats and dogs
(2) : to make incapable of germination
c : to make powerless or useless usually by restraining from a normal function, relation, or participation
d : to free from living microorganisms

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Other Words from sterilize

sterilization \ ˌster-​ə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən \ noun
sterilizer \ ˈster-​ə-​ˌlī-​zər \ noun

Examples of sterilize in a Sentence

The organization encourages people to sterilize their cats and dogs.

Recent Examples on the Web

The stainless steel tanks used for fermentation and aging must be cleaned and sterilized at every step of the process, requiring copious quantities of water and chemical cleaning agents. Aleksandra Crapanzano, WSJ, "The Winery That Fits in a Closet," 12 Oct. 2018 Always wash, clean, and sterilize items used in canning according to instructions. Lindsey Murray, Good Housekeeping, "Taco Bell has just issued a warning for its popular salsa con queso.," 25 July 2018 If the hair is above the skin and reachable, sterilize a tweezer (use a cotton ball covered in rubbing alcohol), and pluck the hair. Loni Venti, Teen Vogue, "How To Get Rid of Ingrown Hair: 9 Tips to Heal Your Skin," 5 Oct. 2018 When choosing products made from down, check the label to see if the filling was sterilized. Jodi Helmer, ELLE Decor, "Beddings Basics," 19 Oct. 2011 Using a sewing needle, which should also be sterilized with rubbing alcohol, gently poke the side of the blister, Zeichner says. Macaela Mackenzie, Allure, "A Visual Guide to Identifying First-, Second- and Third-Degree Burns," 6 Aug. 2018 More expensive versions add functions, allowing you to make your own yogurt, bake a cake and sterilize stuff. 2. Liz Weston, USA TODAY, "7 gifts that help your college graduate stash more cash," 14 Apr. 2018 Certified tattoo and piercing parlors have an autoclave machine, which uses high temperature and steam to sterilize the gun. Elizabeth Denton, Seventeen, "9 Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Body Piercing," 12 July 2018 Kojima was forcibly sterilized in 1960 after being treated for a mental illness. Mari Yamaguchi,, "3 Japanese seek damages, apology for forced sterilizations," 18 May 2018

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

1695, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for sterilize

Last Updated

26 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for sterilize

The first known use of sterilize was in 1695

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More Definitions for sterilize



English Language Learners Definition of sterilize

: to clean (something) by destroying germs or bacteria

: to make (someone or something) unable to produce children, young animals, etc.


ster·​il·​ize | \ ˈster-ə-ˌlīz \
sterilized; sterilizing

Kids Definition of sterilize

: to make sterile and especially free from germs


transitive verb
variants: also British sterilise \ ˈster-​ə-​ˌlīz \
sterilized also British sterilised; sterilizing also British sterilising

Medical Definition of sterilize

: to make sterile:
a : to deprive of the power of reproducing
b : to free from living microorganisms (as by the use of physical or chemical agents) sterilize a surgical instrument

Other Words from sterilize

sterilization \ ˌster-​ə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən \ also British sterilisation \ -​ˌlī-​ˈ \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on sterilize

Spanish Central: Translation of sterilize

Nglish: Translation of sterilize for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sterilize for Arabic Speakers

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