• synonyms


verb (used with object), col·o·nized, col·o·niz·ing.
  1. to establish a colony in; settle: England colonized Australia.
  2. to form a colony of: to colonize laborers in a mining region.
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verb (used without object), col·o·nized, col·o·niz·ing.
  1. to form a colony: They went out to Australia to colonize.
  2. to settle in a colony.
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Also especially British, col·o·nise.

Origin of colonize

First recorded in 1615–25; colon(y) + -ize
Related formscol·o·niz·a·ble, adjectivecol·o·niz·a·bil·i·ty, nouncol·o·ni·za·tion, nouncol·o·ni·za·tion·ist, nouncol·o·niz·er, nounin·ter·col·o·ni·za·tion, nounin·ter·col·o·nize, verb, in·ter·col·o·nized, in·ter·col·o·niz·ing.re·col·o·ni·za·tion, nounre·col·o·nize, verb (used with object), re·col·o·nized, re·col·o·niz·ing.un·col·o·nize, verb (used with object), un·col·o·nized, un·col·o·niz·ing.well-col·o·nized, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for colonise

Historical Examples of colonise

  • 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.

  • It had been often proposed to extirpate them and to colonise the country.

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


    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

British Dictionary definitions for colonise



  1. to send colonists to or establish a colony in (an area)
  2. to settle in (an area) as colonists
  3. (tr) to transform (a community) into a colony
  4. (of plants and animals) to become established in (a new environment)
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Derived Formscolonizable or colonisable, adjectivecolonization or colonisation, nouncolonizer or 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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper