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See more synonyms for sensitize on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), sen·si·tized, sen·si·tiz·ing.
  1. to render sensitive.
  2. Photography. to render (a film or the like) sensitive to light or other forms of radiant energy.
  3. Immunology. to render sensitive to an antigenic substance.
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verb (used without object), sen·si·tized, sen·si·tiz·ing.
  1. to become sensitized.
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Also especially British, sen·si·tise.

Origin of sensitize

First recorded in 1855–60; sensit(ive) + -ize
Related formssen·si·tiz·er, nounan·ti·sen·si·tiz·er, nounan·ti·sen·si·tiz·ing, adjectivenon·sen·si·tized, adjectivenon·sen·si·tiz·ing, adjectiveo·ver·sen·si·tize, verb, o·ver·sen·si·tized, o·ver·sen·si·tiz·ing.re·sen·si·tize, verb (used with object), re·sen·si·tized, re·sen·si·tiz·ing.un·sen·si·tize, verb (used with object), un·sen·si·tized, un·sen·si·tiz·ing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sensitize

Historical Examples

  • To sensitize the plates I employ a bath of bichromate of potash of six per cent, and again dry them.

    Scientific American, Vol. XLIII.--No. 1. [New Series.], July 3, 1880


  • Use unglazed writing-paper, and sensitize a strip at the top a little larger than the picture to be printed on it.

  • To sensitize, immerse the silk in a 20 grain solution of silver nitrate for about sixteen minutes.

    Photographic Amusements, Ninth Edition

    Walter E. Woodbury and Frank R. Fraprie

British Dictionary definitions for sensitize



  1. to make or become sensitive
  2. (tr) to render (an individual) sensitive to a drug, allergen, etc
  3. (tr) photog to make (a material) sensitive to light or to other actinic radiation, esp to light of a particular colour, by coating it with a photographic emulsion often containing special chemicals, such as dyes
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Derived Formssensitization or sensitisation, nounsensitizer or sensitiser, 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 sensitize


1856, in photography; see sensitive + -ize. Of persons from 1880. Related: Sensitized; sensitizing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sensitize in Medicine


  1. To make hypersensitive or reactive to an antigen, such as pollen, especially by repeated exposure.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.