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[ster-uh-lahyz] /ˈstɛr əˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), sterilized, sterilizing.
to destroy microorganisms in or on, usually by bringing to a high temperature with steam, dry heat, or boiling liquid.
to destroy the ability of (a person or animal) to reproduce by removing the sex organs or inhibiting their functions.
to make (land) barren or unproductive.
Informal. to delete or remove anything comprising or damaging from:
to sterilize a government document before releasing it to the press.
Informal. to isolate or completely protect from unwanted, unauthorized, or unwholesome activities, attitudes, influences, etc.:
You can't sterilize children against violence.
Also, especially British, sterilise.
1685-95; sterile + -ize
Related forms
sterilizable, adjective
sterilizability, noun
sterilizer, noun
presterilize, verb (used with object), presterilized, presterilizing.
resterilize, verb (used with object), resterilized, resterilizing.
self-sterilized, adjective
unsterilized, adjective
Can be confused
impotence, sterility, sterilized. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sterilized
  • Using clean tongs, remove the sterilized jars from the simmering water and shake out the water.
  • He takes a thin, sterilized knife and slices into the tissue with disconcerting ease.
  • For instance, prisoners are allowed conjugal visits-provided that one of the parties has been sterilized.
  • It also makes a terrifically easy hostess gift when poured into a sterilized jar.
  • So the products they use are superclean and sterilized but covered in chemicals.
  • sterilized, they protect patients from infection, protect the surgeon from accidental cuts and infection from patients.
  • Transfer sauce to a sterilized jar, cover and allow to cool.
  • Provide a copy of the consent form to the individual to be sterilized.
British Dictionary definitions for sterilized


(transitive) to render sterile; make infertile or barren
Derived Forms
sterilizable, 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
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Word Origin and History for sterilized



"destroy the fertility of," 1690s (in reference to soil), from sterile + -ize; of living things from 1828. Meaning "render free of microorganisms" is from 1878. Related: Sterilized; sterilizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sterilized in Medicine

sterilize ster·il·ize (stěr'ə-līz')
v. ster·il·ized, ster·il·iz·ing, ster·il·iz·es

  1. To make free from live bacteria or other microorganisms.

  2. To deprive a person or an animal of the ability to produce offspring, as by removing the reproductive organs.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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