desensitize

To desensitize is to make less sensitive, or less easily upset. Some people say that watching scary movies desensitizes kids to violence.

A shot of novocaine desensitizes you to the pain of having a cavity drilled by your dentist, and lots of spicy food can desensitize you to more subtle flavors. In both cases, you become less perceptive, or less affected by a sensation or taste. Witnessing violence can likewise desensitize soldiers or war reporters. The word originally referred to photographic development, from de-, "do the opposite of," and sensitize, with its Latin root sentire, "feel or perceive."

Definitions of desensitize
1

v make insensitive

“His military training desensitized him”
Synonyms:
desensitise
Antonyms:
sensibilise, sensibilize, sensify, sensitise, sensitize
make sensitive or aware
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

v cause not to be sensitive

“The war desensitized many soldiers”
“The photographic plate was desensitized
Synonyms:
desensitise
Antonyms:
sensitise, sensitize
cause to sense; make sensitive
Types:
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
benumb, blunt, dull, numb
make numb or insensitive
bedaze, daze, stun
overcome as with astonishment or disbelief
besot, stupefy
make dull or stupid or muddle with drunkenness or infatuation
deaf, deafen
make or render deaf
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.