When you sterilize something, you make it completely clean and free from any contaminant. It's important to sterilize tools, hands, and furniture in hospitals so germs don't get spread between patients.

People who make their own jam and pickles need to sterilize the jars first, and when you feed a tiny baby it's important to sterilize the bottles. Whenever you need to make sure something is as clean as possible, you should sterilize it. The earliest meaning of sterilize is still in use, too: to "make infertile," or to make it impossible for an organism to reproduce or have a baby.

Definitions of sterilize
  1. verb
    make free from bacteria
    synonyms: sterilise
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    subject to the action of an autoclave
    type of:
    destroy microorganisms or pathogens by cleansing
  2. verb
    make infertile
    “in some countries, people with genetically transmissible disabilites are sterilized
    synonyms: desex, desexualise, desexualize, fix, sterilise, unsex
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    alter, castrate, neuter, spay
    remove the ovaries of
    castrate, demasculinise, demasculinize, emasculate
    remove the testicles of a male animal
    vasectomise, vasectomize
    remove the vas deferens
    defeminise, defeminize
    remove the ovaries of (female mammals such as cats)
    caponise, caponize
    convert a cock into a capon
    cut, geld
    cut off the testicles (of male animals such as horses)
    type of:
    operate, operate on
    perform surgery on
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