• synonyms


verb (used with object), in·i·tial·ized, in·i·tial·iz·ing. Computers.
  1. to set (variables, counters, switches, etc.) to their starting values at the beginning of a program or subprogram.
  2. to clear (internal memory, a disk, etc.) of previous data in preparation for use.
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Also especially British, in·i·tial·ise.

Origin of initialize

First recorded in 1955–60; initial + -ize
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for initialise

Historical Examples

  • Our fancy supplies us, and there not being many, we will just initialise them all, and let he whom the cap fits put it on.

    Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities

    Robert Smith Surtees

British Dictionary definitions for initialise



  1. (tr) to assign an initial value to (a variable or storage location) in a computer program
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Derived Formsinitialization or initialisation, 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 initialise



1833, "to designate by initials," from initial + -ize. Meaning "to make ready for operation" is from 1957. Related: Initialized; initializing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper