• synonyms


verb (used with object), crim·i·nal·ized, crim·i·nal·iz·ing.
  1. to make punishable as a crime: To reduce the graffiti on subway cars, he wants to criminalize the selling of spray paint to minors.
  2. to make a criminal of: Drug use has criminalized him.
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Also especially British, crim·i·nal·ise.

Origin of criminalize

First recorded in 1955–60; criminal + -ize
Related formscrim·i·nal·i·za·tion, nounre·crim·i·nal·i·za·tion, nounre·crim·i·nal·ize, verb (used with object), re·crim·i·nal·ized, re·crim·i·nal·iz·ing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for criminalize



verb (tr)
  1. to make (an action or activity) criminal
  2. to treat (a person) as a criminal
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Derived Formscriminalization or criminalisation, 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