When you take something that's against the law and make it legal, you decriminalize it. If your state rescinds a law requiring motorcycle helmets, they decriminalize riding without a helmet (which still doesn't mean it's a good idea).

As social norms change, lawmakers and voters may choose to decriminalize activities or behaviors that were once illegal. If the legislature of your states decides that a casino will bring in needed revenue, they might decriminalize gambling. The word decriminalize can also be used when things are still technically against the law, but those laws are no longer enforced: "There's still a leash law, but the city decided to decriminalize off-leash dogs on the beach."

Definitions of decriminalize
  1. verb
    make legal
    synonyms: decriminalise, legalise, legalize, legitimate, legitimatise, legitimatize, legitimise, legitimize
    see moresee less
    criminalise, criminalize, illegalise, illegalize, outlaw
    declare illegal; outlaw
    monetise, monetize
    give legal value to or establish as the legal tender of a country
    type of:
    allow, countenance, let, permit
    consent to, give permission
Word Family

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