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[kol-uh-nahyz] /ˈkɒl əˌnaɪz/
verb (used with object), colonized, colonizing.
to establish a colony in; settle:
England colonized Australia.
to form a colony of:
to colonize laborers in a mining region.
verb (used without object), colonized, colonizing.
to form a colony:
They went out to Australia to colonize.
to settle in a colony.
Also, especially British, colonise.
Origin of colonize
First recorded in 1615-25; colon(y) + -ize
Related forms
colonizable, adjective
colonizability, noun
colonization, noun
colonizationist, noun
colonizer, noun
intercolonization, noun
intercolonize, verb, intercolonized, intercolonizing.
recolonization, noun
recolonize, verb (used with object), recolonized, recolonizing.
uncolonize, verb (used with object), uncolonized, uncolonizing.
well-colonized, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for colonise
Historical Examples
  • The country they were about to colonise had been recently overrun by Kafir hordes.

    The Settler and the Savage R.M. Ballantyne
  • All enter it to hunt or make war, but none to settle or colonise.

    The Wild Huntress Mayne Reid
  • It had been often proposed to extirpate them and to colonise the country.

  • A Frenchman never discovers this, and therefore he cannot colonise.

    Dariel R. D. Blackmore
  • We could not colonise it, could not cultivate it, could not draw a revenue from it.

    The English in the West Indies James Anthony Froude
  • To exploit is not to colonise, and on this side there is the most urgent need for decentralisation.

    The African Colony John Buchan
  • No one else but the native can work its resources; you cannot live in it and colonise it.

    West African studies Mary Henrietta Kingsley
  • But what about the races you colonise and subject—who can't protect themselves?


    Ellen Newbold La Motte
  • Morgan was not there to colonise Pacific Oceans, but to sack Panama.

    On the Spanish Main John Masefield
  • The French Protestants had been attempting to colonise in Florida.

British Dictionary definitions for colonise


to send colonists to or establish a colony in (an area)
to settle in (an area) as colonists
(transitive) to transform (a community) into a colony
(of plants and animals) to become established in (a new environment)
Derived Forms
colonizable, colonisable, adjective
colonization, colonisation, noun
colonizer, coloniser, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for colonise



1620s, "to settle with colonists," from stem of Latin colonus "tiller of the soil, farmer" (see colony); in sense "to make another place into a national dependency" without regard for settlement there by 1790s (e.g. in reference to French activity in Egypt or British work in India), and probably directly from colony.

No principle ought ever to be tolerated or acted upon, that does not proceed on the basis of India being considered as the temporary residence of a great British Establishment, for the good government of the country, upon steady and uniform principles, and of a large British factory, for the beneficial management of its trade, upon rules applicable to the state and manners of the country. [Henry Dundas, Chairman of the East-India Company, letter, April 2, 1800]
Related: Colonized; colonizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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