[ ster-uh-lahyz ]
See synonyms for: sterilizesterilizedsterilizer on

verb (used with object),ster·i·lized, ster·i·liz·ing.
  1. to destroy microorganisms in or on, usually by bringing to a high temperature with steam, dry heat, or boiling liquid.

  2. to destroy the ability of (a person or animal) to reproduce by removing the sex organs or inhibiting their functions.

  1. to make (land) barren or unproductive.

  2. Informal. to delete or remove anything comprising or damaging from: to sterilize a government document before releasing it to the press.

  3. Informal. to isolate or completely protect from unwanted, unauthorized, or unwholesome activities, attitudes, influences, etc.: You can't sterilize children against violence.

Origin of sterilize

First recorded in 1685–95; sterile + -ize
  • Also especially British, ster·i·lise .

Other words from sterilize

  • ster·i·liz·a·ble, adjective
  • ster·i·liz·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • ster·i·liz·er, noun
  • pre·ster·i·lize, verb (used with object), pre·ster·i·lized, pre·ster·i·liz·ing.
  • re·ster·i·lize, verb (used with object), re·ster·i·lized, re·ster·i·liz·ing.
  • self-ster·i·lized, adjective
  • un·ster·i·lized, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sterilize in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sterilize



/ (ˈstɛrɪˌlaɪz) /

  1. (tr) to render sterile; make infertile or barren

Derived forms of sterilize

  • sterilizable or sterilisable, adjective

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