ur·​ban·​ize | \ ˈər-bə-ˌnīz How to pronounce urbanize (audio) \
urbanized; urbanizing

Definition of urbanize

transitive verb

1 : to cause to take on urban characteristics urbanized areas
2 : to impart an urban way of life to urbanize migrants from rural areas

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for urbanize



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of urbanize in a Sentence

every September the city of Boston urbanizes a new crop of college students from small towns across the country

Recent Examples on the Web

These dingy apartments were on the most coveted plots of city real estate, and as China urbanized, their value rocketed. Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, "China’s debt disease might wreck its uncrashable housing market," 11 June 2019 Much of Latin America also urbanized rapidly without services such as schooling and policing, creating belts of excluded groups around cities. David Luhnow, WSJ, "Latin America Is the Murder Capital of the World," 20 Sep. 2018 Cities in the less developed and more rapidly urbanizing parts of the world, such as Ho Chi Minh City and Mumbai, may experience even more substantial losses as a percentage of their total economic output. Richard Florida, WIRED, "Climate Change Will Force the Poor From Their Homes," 13 July 2018 But Musk is confronting a major problem facing today’s rapidly urbanizing populations. Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American, "First SpaceX Hyperloop Transit Pod Contender Unveiled [Video]," 14 May 2016 But for a world that’s rapidly urbanizing and heating, the truly cool tech is bikes. Clive Thompson, WIRED, "The Vehicle of the Future Has Two Wheels, Handlebars, and Is a Bike," 13 May 2018 Many areas have urbanized, with more walkable streets, independent boutiques and eateries. Katy Mclaughlin, WSJ, "Living in ‘the Valley’ Is, Like, Cool Now," 29 Mar. 2018 The country was rapidly urbanizing; previously far-flung places were newly linked by railroads. Rachel Monroe, The Atlantic, "The Perfect Man Who Wasn't," 6 Mar. 2018 Africa is urbanizing faster than any other region of the world. Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, "In the Land of the Skinny, People are Getting Fat," 27 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'urbanize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of urbanize

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about urbanize

Statistics for urbanize

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for urbanize

The first known use of urbanize was in 1836

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on urbanize

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with urbanize

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for urbanize

Britannica English: Translation of urbanize for Arabic Speakers

Comments on urbanize

What made you want to look up urbanize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!