Definition of desensitize in English:

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Pronunciation: /diːˈsɛnsɪtʌɪz/
(also desensitise)


[with object]
1Make less sensitive: creams to desensitize the skin at the site of the injection
More example sentences
  • Capsaicin first activates the pain receptors, causing a mild burning sensation, but upon repeated application to the skin it desensitizes the receptors and relieves the pain.
  • Applying lidocaine cream to your forehead may relieve migraine pain by desensitizing the nerves that trigger it.
  • Achieving good flavor qualities in an ice cream presents specific challenges: low temperature desensitizes or dulls the taste buds, so a potent flavor is required.
1.1Make (someone) less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty or suffering by overexposure to such images: (as adjective desensitized) people who view such movies become desensitized to violence
More example sentences
  • People are desensitized to violence - you see so much of it on a regular basis on TV and in the movies, or you see these stories on the news about people dying from gun crime, but it doesn't sink in.
  • Are we being desensitized to these graphic pictures?
  • And yet, as a whole, people are so desensitized to the whole idea of explosions and molecules that they barely even stop to think about how this could effect the world.
1.2Free (someone) from a phobia or neurosis by gradually exposing them to the thing that is feared. See systematic desensitization.
Example sentences
  • The goal is to modify dysfunctional cognitions and to desensitize patients to the fear and anxiety associated with certain situations.
  • At this time, the patient is open to suggestion, and can be desensitised towards fears, phobias, pain and personal issues.
  • This finding may have therapeutic applications; however, it may also be applicable in advertising to desensitize fear of a dangerous product, such as cigarettes.



Pronunciation: /diːˌsɛnsɪtʌɪˈzeɪʃ(ə)n/
Example sentences
  • Would you say that bringing emotion into the story, letting the reporter speak from the heart, is also helping avoid the desensitization?
  • I believe in the effect of an increasing desensitization of people towards violence, and I believe that violent images of women are damaging.
  • Many other studies show marked changes in aggressive and deviant attitudes resulting from pornographic desensitization.


Pronunciation: /ˌdiːˈsɛnsɪtʌɪzə/
Example sentences
  • Its portability allows the desensitizer to be placed on either side or any position from the operator.
  • Many patients have purposely put off dental work until this desensitizer is available.
  • The potassium acts as a desensitiser in cases of dental hypersensitivity.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: de|sen¦si|tize

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