ur·​ban·​i·​za·​tion | \ ˌər-bə-nə-ˈzā-shən \

Definition of urbanization

: the quality or state of being urbanized or the process of becoming urbanized

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The word urbanization started appearing in print way back in the 1880s, which says something about the growth of American cities. The expansion of Los Angeles was an early example of uncontrolled urbanization. Urbanization is often seen as a negative trend, with bad effects on quality of life and the environment. But apartments require much less heat than houses, and commuting by mass transit rather than cars can reduce pollution and energy use, and cities offer improved opportunities for jobs (and often for education and housing as well), so city growth doesn't make everyone unhappy.

Examples of urbanization in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The first overlooked factor in the crash was the urbanization triggered by the information economy. Kevin Erdmann, WSJ, "Rich Cities Created the Housing Shortage," 6 Jan. 2019 To make significant impact on climate change, cities everywhere will need to play a part (much of the coming wave of urbanization expected across the globe will take place in the developing world). Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "As cities confront climate change, is density the answer?," 11 Dec. 2018 Cities often see flash floods get worse as urbanization grows, as a cityscape is an incredibly efficient rainwater collector. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Houston’s cityscape squeezed extra rain out of Hurricane Harvey," 16 Nov. 2018 For storms like Harvey, changes in land use that come with urbanization, such as replacing permeable surfaces like grass with impermeable surfaces like concrete, can cause big changes in water runoff. Kara Dapena, WSJ, "The Rising Costs of Hurricanes," 29 Sep. 2018 Understandably, given the incompatibility of natural deltaic processes with urbanization, New Orleanians began erecting embankments along the river and digging drainage ditches within a year of the city’s foundation. Richard Campanella, The Atlantic, "How Humans Sank New Orleans," 6 Feb. 2018 When Maya populations recovered at the beginning of what scholars call the Classic period, farming and urbanization returned with more vigor than ever. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Carbon impact of ancient Maya farming may still be felt," 22 Aug. 2018 The mutation of monsters from bizarre police reports into emblems of the community seems to go hand in hand with the destruction of small town economies by the forces of globalization and urbanization. Joseph P. Laycock, Smithsonian, "A Search for Mysteries and Monsters in Small Town America," 11 July 2018 Still, the findings suggest that urbanization could make the flooding impacts of hurricanes worse, and in multiple different ways. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "How humans are transforming the hurricanes of the future," 14 Nov. 2018

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

1888, in the meaning defined above

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urban legend


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Last Updated

30 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for urbanization

The first known use of urbanization was in 1888

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English Language Learners Definition of urbanization

: the process by which towns and cities are formed and become larger as more and more people begin living and working in central areas

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More from Merriam-Webster on urbanization

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with urbanization

Britannica English: Translation of urbanization for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about urbanization

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to express emotion in a dramatic way

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