What word or phrase does your mother always say?


[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.
Origin of sterilize
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.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for sterilize
  • Even professor folks don't realize that over half of all tattoo parlors don't sterilize their equipment and reuse needles.
  • The method the team used to sterilize the males is too time-consuming for large-scale use in the field.
  • sterilize her, so nothing competes for your living space.
  • During the last decade, they have come into use to sterilize some medical instruments.
  • Flame-sterilize the tap or chemically disinfect the tap.
  • Do not flame-sterilize if the tap is plastic or if aerators are attached.
  • Cold sterilization autoclaves use a cold sterilization liquid to sterilize the contents.
  • Take the precautions of not getting your students sick and sterilize everything when you are done.
  • The process for irradiating mail is the same process used to sterilize medical equipment.
  • So generally pH is not used to sterilize water for this reason.
British Dictionary definitions for sterilize


(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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for sterilize

"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
Cite This Source
sterilize 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.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for sterilize

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for sterilize

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with sterilize