vul·​ca·​nize ˈvəl-kə-ˌnīz How to pronounce vulcanize (audio)
vulcanized; vulcanizing

transitive verb

: to subject to vulcanization

intransitive verb

: to undergo vulcanization
vulcanizer noun

Did you know?

Vulcanize might sound like something Spock from Star Trek might do, but the explanation behind this word has more to do with ancient mythology than it does with science fiction. Vulcanization in its simplest form consists of heating rubber with sulfur in order to improve the rubber's qualities. The Roman god Vulcan (whose Greek counterpart is Hephaestus) was the god of fire and of skills that used fire, such as metalworking. So when Charles Goodyear discovered that high heat would result in stronger rubber, he called the process "vulcanization" after the god of fire. Goodyear developed the idea in 1839 and acquired a patent for it in 1844.

Examples of vulcanize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web World Expos, or World’s Fairs as some are known, have celebrated some of the major inventions of their time, including stereoscopic photography, vulcanized rubber, the zipper, the internal combustion engine and IMAX. Christy Choi, CNN, 31 Jan. 2024 Fun fact: basketball was invented in Springfield, Mass., as was vulcanized rubber. Andrea Cohen, The New Yorker, 9 Oct. 2023 It’s made with an innovative polymer called Thermoplastic Vulcanizate, or TPV, which blends materials that are set at high temperatures, otherwise known as vulcanizing. Kate Morgan, Popular Mechanics, 14 Apr. 2023 The next step is to nuke the pothole again, heating the mix to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit to vulcanize the asphalt and create a tight bond. Jason Daley, Discover Magazine, 14 Nov. 2011 Lawlis is strikingly confident about the BAUD, comparing his breakthroughs to Charles Goodyear's discovery of vulcanized rubber. Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Feb. 2020 The look’s latest champion, Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga, introduced a phalanx of these human anomalies in his spring 2020 show, all chalky complexions and vulcanized lips and with prosthetics augmenting their otherwise sunken cheeks. New York Times, 29 Oct. 2019 Each pair is handcrafted out of natural rubber and vulcanized to ensure your feet stay dry. Kelsey Mulvey, Marie Claire, 18 Sep. 2019 Made with waterproof vulcanized rubber, this boot is doubled up on areas that often blow out in other boots. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, 29 Mar. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vulcanize.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary, from Latin Vulcanus Vulcan, fire

First Known Use

1845, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of vulcanize was in 1845


Dictionary Entries Near vulcanize

Cite this Entry

“Vulcanize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


vul·​ca·​nize ˈvəl-kə-ˌnīz How to pronounce vulcanize (audio)
vulcanized; vulcanizing
: to treat rubber or similar plastic material chemically in order to give it useful properties (as elasticity or strength)

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