de·​crim·​i·​nal·​ize | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈkri-mə-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) , -ˈkrim-nəl- \
decriminalized; decriminalizing; decriminalizes

Definition of decriminalize

transitive verb

: to remove or reduce the criminal classification or status of especially : to repeal a strict ban on while keeping under some form of regulation decriminalize the possession of marijuana

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Other Words from decriminalize

decriminalization \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌkri-​mə-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) , -​ˌkrim-​nəl-​ \ noun

Examples of decriminalize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The council voted Wednesday to decriminalize such camping. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 26 Sep. 2021 Recently, 59% of voters in Oregon voted to decriminalize possession of small quantities of all drugs, even cocaine and heroin. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 July 2021 In 2019, Cincinnati City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana. Sharon Coolidge, The Enquirer, 15 July 2021 According to Italian law, 500,000 signatures allow proponents to proceed with the ballot campaign that would decriminalize the domestic cultivation of cannabis and end penalties for personal use. Dario Sabaghi, Forbes, 24 Sep. 2021 Last week, California lawmakers approved a bill that would decriminalize loitering for the purposes of prostitution. Sam Dorman, Fox News, 15 Sep. 2021 The gradual rise in marijuana use comes as more states elect to legalize or decriminalize the substance. Jay Cannon, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2021 The list of communities to decriminalize or push forward psychedelic reform grows, including Oakland and Santa Cruz, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; as well as Northampton, Somerville and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Benjamin Adams, Forbes, 2 Sep. 2021 Several cities across the country, including Oakland, have moved to decriminalize natural psychedelics derived from plants and fungi. Dustin Gardiner, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Aug. 2021

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

1969, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of decriminalize was in 1969

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decriminalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of decriminalize

: to make (something that is illegal) legal by changing the law


transitive verb
de·​crim·​i·​nal·​ize | \ dē-ˈkri-mən-ᵊl-ˌīz How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) \
decriminalized; decriminalizing

Legal Definition of decriminalize

: to remove or reduce the criminal classification or status of

Other Words from decriminalize

decriminalization \ dē-​ˌkri-​mən-​ᵊl-​ə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) \ noun

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for decriminalize

Nglish: Translation of decriminalize for Spanish Speakers


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