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See more synonyms for decentralize on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing.
  1. to distribute the administrative powers or functions of (a central authority) over a less concentrated area: to decentralize the national government.
  2. to disperse (something) from an area of concentration: to decentralize the nation's industry.
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verb (used without object), de·cen·tral·ized, de·cen·tral·iz·ing.
  1. to undergo decentralization: The city government is looking for ways to decentralize.
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Also especially British, de·cen·tral·ise.

Origin of decentralize

First recorded in 1850–55; de- + centralize
Related formsde·cen·tral·ist, nounde·cen·tral·i·za·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for decentralize

scatter, disperse, distribute, separate, broadcast, circulate, disseminate, divvy, partition, propagate, allot, allocate, apportion

Examples from the Web for decentralize

Historical Examples of decentralize

  • The only way to engage the people in the task is to decentralize the government.

    China, Japan and the U.S.A.

    John Dewey

  • For once we have centralized our great rail transport plant, we shall at once begin to decentralize it.

    Our Railroads To-Morrow

    Edward Hungerford

  • The partisans of State Rights, in their efforts to decentralize, would denationalize.

  • It is probable, therefore, that on the whole the effect of Socialism would be to decentralize rather than to centralize.

British Dictionary definitions for decentralize



  1. to reorganize (a government, industry, etc) into smaller more autonomous units
  2. to disperse (a concentration, as of industry or population)
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Derived Formsdecentralist, noun, adjectivedecentralization or decentralisation, 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 decentralize


1840 (implied in decentralized), probably a back-formation from decentralization. Related: Decentralizing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper