sterilize

verb
ster·​il·​ize | \ ˈster-ə-ˌlīz How to pronounce sterilize (audio) \
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 How to pronounce sterilization (audio) \ noun
sterilizer \ ˈster-​ə-​ˌlī-​zər How to pronounce sterilizer (audio) \ noun

Examples of sterilize in a Sentence

The organization encourages people to sterilize their cats and dogs.
Recent Examples on the Web That included adding an extra autoclave to sterilize instruments more quickly, using spacesuit-like gowns for doctors to reduce infection risk and having patients start physical therapy just hours after knee- or hip-replacement surgery. Kaiser Health News, oregonlive.com, "U.S. company pays to send patients to Mexican resort town for much cheaper surgeries," 18 Aug. 2019 But these fiber-optic devices have a remarkable drawback: Although they are inserted into the upper part of the small intestine through the mouth and constantly reused, they cannot be sterilized by the usual methods. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, "These Medical Devices Are Inserted Into 500,000 Patients Each Year — but Are Tough to Sterilize," 6 Aug. 2019 But red dwarfs are harsh hosts, emitting frequent flares containing x-rays and ultraviolet radiation that could sterilize a planet, as well as energetic stellar winds that can strip it of its protective atmosphere. Adam Mann, Scientific American, "Scientists Mull the Astrobiological Implications of an Airless Alien Planet," 19 Aug. 2019 The devices cannot be exposed to high heat to be sterilized, as many instruments are. Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, "These Medical Devices Are Inserted Into 500,000 Patients Each Year — but Are Tough to Sterilize," 6 Aug. 2019 The exterior of the packages used to transport lunar soil samples at Ames were sterilized before the scientists opened them, and that was just the initial layer. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Apollo 11 lunar samples were searched for signs of life," 16 July 2019 Cups will be washed and sterilized and returned to Starbucks for recirculation. SFChronicle.com, "Shutterfly, Gentry being acquired; no strike at Kaiser after all," 10 June 2019 Washing hands, sanitizing everything, using disposable brushes and sterilizing our tweezers are a must. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Will Eyelash Extensions Ruin Your Natural Lashes? We Investigate," 31 July 2019 That process can be used to distill and sterilize water and could also be used in power generation. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Mussels’ Sticky Threads Could Inspire Ways to Clean Up Oil Spills, Purify Water and More," 13 July 2019

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

31 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for sterilize

The first known use of sterilize was in 1695

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More Definitions for sterilize

sterilize

verb
How to pronounce sterilize (audio)

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.

sterilize

verb
ster·​il·​ize | \ ˈster-ə-ˌlīz How to pronounce sterilize (audio) \
sterilized; sterilizing

Kids Definition of sterilize

: to make sterile and especially free from germs

sterilize

transitive verb
ster·​il·​ize
variants: also British sterilise \ ˈster-​ə-​ˌlīz How to pronounce sterilise (audio) \
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 How to pronounce sterilization (audio) \ also British sterilisation \ -​ˌlī-​ˈ How to pronounce sterilisation (audio) \ 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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