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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web 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 What did well were Nike x Off-White sneaker drops, Off-White vulcanized sneaker, Essentials, and the Moncler Genius drops—collaborations in general are still strong. Mark Holgate, Vogue, 18 Dec. 2018 Over several months, the four prisoners secreted rubber cement (many varieties of which include vulcanizing agents) from Alcatraz’s cobbling and glove-making shops, then spread it on the seams of the raincoats to join them into a raft. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, 18 Jan. 2018 To people who think about vulcanizing at all—which is to say, almost nobody—this is a fairly boring process by which sulfur or other curatives create water-resistant links between rubber molecules. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, 18 Jan. 2018 See More

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

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 25 Mar. 2023.

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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