To cauterize is to seal off a wound or incision by burning it or freezing it, usually with a hot iron, electricity, or chemicals. Metaphorically, cauterize means to make less sensitive to feelings and emotions.

Cauterize is usually a medical term. In surgery, using an electrical tool to cauterize the incision seals off blood vessels, resulting in a cleaner operation that heals more easily. Extreme cold, electricity, and chemicals are also used outside the body cauterize, or "burn off," warts and vessels that cause nosebleeds.

Definitions of cauterize
  1. verb
    burn, sear, or freeze (tissue) using a hot iron or electric current or a caustic agent
    “The surgeon cauterized the wart”
    synonyms: burn, cauterise
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    type of:
    care for, treat
    provide treatment for
  2. verb
    make insensitive or callous; deaden feelings or morals
    synonyms: callous, cauterise
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    type of:
    harden, indurate, inure
    cause to accept or become hardened to; habituate
Word Family

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