ur·​ban·​i·​za·​tion | \ ˌər-bə-nə-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce urbanization (audio) \

Definition of urbanization

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

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Did You Know?

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 Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads dengue, is most prevalent in cities, and experts warn that increased urbanization and warming temperatures due to climate change means that its range will keep increasing. Washington Post, "Dengue prevention efforts stifled by coronavirus pandemic," 12 July 2020 Climate change and rapid urbanization have made dengue outbreaks bigger in the past decades. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "What you need to know about coronavirus on Friday, July 3," 3 July 2020 The Philippines isn’t the only country in Southeast Asia grappling with over-urbanization. Andreo Calonzo, Bloomberg.com, "Duterte Is Paying Filipinos to Move From City to Countryside," 1 June 2020 Japan’s early modern period of urbanization and intellectual cultivation was a period of relative peace and prosperity, which led, in turn, to the rich and vibrant art world that illustrated a culture’s song of itself. Tamar Avishai, The New York Review of Books, "Art in Isolation: The Delicate Paintings of Edo Japan," 9 May 2020 Shrinking suitable habitat amid urbanization and the rapid expansion of agriculture also cluster animals closer together with humans and domestic animals. Amanda Morris, azcentral, "Coronavirus won't be the last outbreak. Climate change, waning habitat will drive disease," 30 Mar. 2020 Even before the age of climate change, the value of the urban forest was understood, first in an aesthetic sense and later, with industrialization and urbanization, systematically and scientifically. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, "Appreciating the need for — and the beauty of — the urban forest," 11 Dec. 2019 Accelerating biodiversity loss—caused by a mix of pollution, over farming, urbanization, and changing temperatures—has made complex ecosystems much simpler and more unstable. Alex Scimecca, Fortune, "Earth Day photo essay: How far have we come in 50 years?," 22 Apr. 2020 Exacerbating the problem is rapid urbanization in industrializing Southeast Asian cities, which is also a major cause of air pollution and poses severe challenges to managing PM 2.5 levels, the report found. Helen Regan, CNN, "21 of the world's 30 cities with the worst air pollution are in India," 25 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for urbanization

Time Traveler

The first known use of urbanization was in 1888

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Statistics for urbanization

Last Updated

24 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Urbanization.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urbanization. Accessed 9 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for urbanization


How to pronounce urbanization (audio)

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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