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[dee-krim-uh-nl-ahyz] /diˈkrɪm ə nlˌaɪz/
verb (used with object), decriminalized, decriminalizing.
to eliminate criminal penalties for or remove legal restrictions against:
to decriminalize marijuana.
Also, especially British, decriminalise.
Origin of decriminalize
An Americanism dating back to 1965-70; de- + criminal + -ize
Related forms
decriminalization, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for decriminalize


(transitive) to remove (an action) from the legal category of criminal offence: to decriminalize the possession of marijuana
Derived Forms
decriminalization, decriminalisation, 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 decriminalize

1963, "to reform a criminal," back-formation from decriminalization. Meaning "to make legal something that formerly had been illegal" was in use by 1970 (there are isolated instances back to 1867). Related: Decriminalized; decriminalizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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