[ ster-uh-luh-zey-shuhn ]
See synonyms for sterilization on
  1. the act of sterilizing.

  2. the condition of being sterilized.

  1. the destruction of all living microorganisms, as pathogenic or saprophytic bacteria, vegetative forms, and spores.

Origin of sterilization

First recorded in 1870–75; sterile + -ization

Other words from sterilization

  • non·ster·i·li·za·tion, noun
  • re·ster·i·li·za·tion, noun

Words Nearby sterilization Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sterilization in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sterilization



/ (ˌstɛrɪlaɪˈzeɪʃən) /

  1. the act or procedure of sterilizing or making sterile

  2. the state of being sterile; sterilized condition

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

Scientific definitions for sterilization


[ stĕr′ə-lĭ-zāshən ]

  1. The procedure of destroying all microorganisms in or on a given environment, such as a surgical instrument, in order to prevent the spread of infection. This is usually done by using heat, radiation, or chemical agents.

  2. Any of various surgical procedures intended to eliminate the capacity to reproduce in humans or animals.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for sterilization


The removal of all microorganisms and other pathogens from an object or surface by treating it with chemicals or subjecting it to high heat or radiation.

Sterilization also refers to procedures that result in infertility. Vasectomies and tubal ligations, in which the fallopian tubes of a woman are tied off, are examples of sterilization techniques.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.