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90s Slang You Should Know


[ster-uh-lahyz] /ˈstɛr əˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), sterilized, sterilizing.
to destroy microorganisms in or on, usually by bringing to a high temperature with steam, dry heat, or boiling liquid.
to destroy the ability of (a person or animal) to reproduce by removing the sex organs or inhibiting their functions.
to make (land) barren or unproductive.
Informal. to delete or remove anything comprising or damaging from:
to sterilize a government document before releasing it to the press.
Informal. to isolate or completely protect from unwanted, unauthorized, or unwholesome activities, attitudes, influences, etc.:
You can't sterilize children against violence.
Also, especially British, sterilise.
Origin of sterilize
First recorded in 1685-95; sterile + -ize
Related forms
sterilizable, adjective
sterilizability, noun
sterilizer, noun
presterilize, verb (used with object), presterilized, presterilizing.
resterilize, verb (used with object), resterilized, resterilizing.
self-sterilized, adjective
unsterilized, adjective
Can be confused
impotence, sterility, sterilized. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sterilize
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Pack tightly in jars, pour over the fat in which the sausage was fried, and sterilize.

    Every Step in Canning Grace Viall Gray
  • In the field it is sometimes necessary to sterilize or filter water.

  • Some ligations and short resections have failed to sterilize.

  • And so we have this day to hunt out all his lairs and sterilize them.

    Dracula Bram Stoker
  • It is far safer to send a mattress to the cleaner to be steamed than to try to sterilize such bulky objects at home.

    Rural Hygiene Henry N. Ogden
  • Already all of his lairs but one be sterilize as for him; and before the sunset this shall be so.

    Dracula Bram Stoker
  • It is curious how the sea seems to sterilize the emotions in some natures.

    Aliens William McFee
  • In canning sauce fill the jars with the hot sauce and sterilize 12 minutes in hot-water bath.

  • Adjust the jar tops next, and proceed to sterilize and cook the jars of carrots according to the method selected.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 5 Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
British Dictionary definitions for sterilize


(transitive) to render sterile; make infertile or barren
Derived Forms
sterilizable, sterilisable, adjective
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 sterilize

"destroy the fertility of," 1690s (in reference to soil), from sterile + -ize; of living things from 1828. Meaning "render free of microorganisms" is from 1878. Related: Sterilized; sterilizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sterilize in Medicine

sterilize ster·il·ize (stěr'ə-līz')
v. ster·il·ized, ster·il·iz·ing, ster·il·iz·es

  1. To make free from live bacteria or other microorganisms.

  2. To deprive a person or an animal of the ability to produce offspring, as by removing the reproductive organs.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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