sterilize 1 Sterilize, castrate, spay, emasculate, alter, mutilate, geld, caponize mean to make incapable of producing offspring. Sterilize, the most general of these terms, is applicable to both human beings and animals and is used whether the end is attained accidentally (as by undue exposure to X rays which kill germ cells) or deliberately (as by a surgical operation which prevents the germ cells from reaching the site where fertilization can occur or by removal of the gonads). Sterilize often suggests a legalized procedure undertaken to prevent the reproduction of undesirables (as imbeciles and habitual criminals); the term does not imply physical disfigurement and does not in itself necessarily imply interference with the capacity for copulation. Castrate, a narrower term than sterilize, means to deprive of the testes, the male reproductive glands. It is used of both human beings and animals and usually implies a surgical procedure and a loss of libido as well as of procreative power. By extension castrate may also mean to deprive of the ovaries, the female reproductive glands, and therefore is often used in place of spay, the specific term for this operation. Emasculate is often preferred to castrate when the reference is to human males and especially when there is the intent to stress the loss of virile or masculine qualities. Alter may replace castrate especially in reference to domestic pets and when an ambiguous or euphemistic term is appropriate. Mutilate (see also MAIM) is sometimes substituted for castrate especially when the intent is to convey strongly the idea of physical disfigurement or violence or when a euphemism is desired. Geld, meaning to castrate, is used chiefly in reference to domestic animals, especially the horse, and caponize, also meaning to castrate, most commonly has reference to the male domestic fowl, but both are sometimes used contemptuously of human beings.
Antonyms: fertilize
2 Sterilize, disinfect, sanitize, fumigate can mean to subject to a process or treatment for the destruction of living organisms, especially microorganisms.
Sterilize suggests drastic methods (as the application of intense heat, boiling, or the use of strong chemicals) with the intent of destroying all microorganisms whether they are disease-producing or not. The term usually suggests means taken to avoid infection. Disinfect also suggests vigorous methods (as exposure to strong sunlight and fresh air, thorough washing, and the use of special chemicals) with the intent of destroying all infective agents; the term usually suggests an intent to free from germs something that is known or feared to be infected. Sanitize, which basically means to make sanitary, is often preferred by public health officials when the reference is to preventive measures affecting the health of a community (as the treatment of drinking water or the cleansing of food processing facilities) and when neither sterilize (because it suggests complete destruction of microorganisms and often implies the taking of measures too drastic for general use) nor disinfect (because it suggests the actual presence of disease germs) exactly fits their needs or makes clear their intention. Fumigate is associated with these terms only because fumigation was once the usual method of disinfection; it implies the use of fumes (as smoke or gas) that are destructive not only of microorganisms but of such pests as cockroaches, beetles, and bedbugs.

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • Sterilize — Ster il*ize, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Sterilized}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Sterilizing}.] [Cf. F. st[ e]riliser.] 1. To make sterile or unproductive; to impoverish, as land; to exhaust of fertility. [R.] Sterilizing the earth. Woodward. [1913 Webster] 2.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sterilize — index decontaminate Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • sterilize — destroy the fertility of, 1690s (in reference to soil), from STERILE (Cf. sterile) + IZE (Cf. ize); of living things from 1828. Meaning render free of microorganisms is from 1878. Related: Sterilized; sterilizing …   Etymology dictionary

  • sterilize — (Amer.) ster·i·lize || sterÉ™laɪz v. make sterile; decontaminate, disinfect (also sterilise) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • sterilize — [v] make clean or unproductive alter, antisepticize, autoclave, castrate, change, clean, decontaminate, desexualize, disinfect, emasculate, fix, fumigate, incapacitate, make sterile, neuter, pasteurize, purify, sanitize, spay; concepts 231,250… …   New thesaurus

  • sterilize — (also sterilise) ► VERB 1) make sterile. 2) deprive of the ability to produce offspring by removing or blocking the sex organs. DERIVATIVES sterilization noun …   English terms dictionary

  • sterilize — [ster′ə līz΄] vt. sterilized, sterilizing to make sterile; specif., a) to make incapable of producing others of its kind, as by removing the organs of reproduction or preventing them from functioning effectively b) to make (land) unproductive c)… …   English World dictionary

  • sterilize — sf., Fr. stérilisé 1) Bozulmasına yol açabilecek mikroorganizmalardan ve mayalardan sterilizasyon yöntemiyle arınmış olan (ürün vb.) Sterilize süt. Sterilize sebze. 2) Kısırlaştırılmış 3) tıp Steril Sterilize şişe. Sterilize tüp. Atasözü, Deyim… …   Çağatay Osmanlı Sözlük

  • sterilize — sterilizable, adj. sterilizability, n. sterilizer, n. /ster euh luyz /, v.t., sterilized, sterilizing. 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… …   Universalium

  • sterilize — [[t]ste̱rɪlaɪz[/t]] sterilizes, sterilizing, sterilized (in BRIT, also use sterilise) 1) VERB If you sterilize a thing or a place, you make it completely clean and free from germs. [V n] Sulphur is also used to sterilize equipment... [V n] The… …   English dictionary

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