How To Use The Suffix -ize (List, Definitions, 48 Examples)

Knowing what the suffix -ize means is very helpful when using and understanding new English words. But it’s not enough. Knowing how to use the suffix -ize will help you turn nouns and adjectives into verbs and easily increase your English vocabulary. This post is your guide.

We use the suffix -ize to change nouns and adjectives into verbs. The new verb often means to make or become
– apologize – to make an apology “I apologize if there was a misunderstanding.” 
– legalize – to make legal “The country decided to legalize marijuana.”

In this post, you will find words that use the suffix -ize to become verbs. The new words have links to their dictionary definitions plus an example sentence so you can see the word being used.

How to Use The Suffix -ize

The suffix -ize can be added to almost any noun or adjective to turn it into a verb. There are people who say that the suffix -ize is overused. This means that people use it too much. Some people feel that many of the words made with this suffix are not elegant and don’t have any real place in English. 

Here are my thoughts. 

I feel there is a large difference between friendly English conversation and published English work like magazines or newspapers, and news or information programs.

If you are having an informal conversation with friends or relatives, and you add the suffix -ize to make a verb that helps your story, I think it’s fine.

Being understood when sharing an idea is the most important thing. If your message was understood, that is successful communication.
You did it!

We could apply the same strict standard to the suffix -ish. This is another suffix that is used very freely to modify words with the meaning of approximate or close.

You can learn more about this suffix at my post > Your complete guide to the Suffix -ISH (Quiz/worksheet)

Those who have a problem with the suffix being overused are usually talking about published English work.
Material that is printed and shared is often held to a higher standard.
In casual conversation you should feel free to communicate in a way that you are confident will be understood. 

Suffix -ize Meaning

The suffix -ize is used to make VERBS from nouns and adjectives. Verbs made with the suffix -ize can mean…

① ​to become, make or make like
moisture (noun) + -ize = moisturize To add moisture, to make moist
apology (noun) + -ize = apologize To make an apology for doing something wrong
legal (adjective) + -ize = legalize To make legal
stable (adjective) + -ize = stabilize To become stable
② ​to speak, think, act, treat, etc. in the way mentioned
critic (noun) + -ize  = criticize To say that you think somebody/something is bad
penalty (noun) + -ize = penalize To punish somebody [give them a penalty]
③ to place in
hospital (noun) + -ize  = hospitalize To put in the hospital
compartment (noun) + -ize  = compartmentalize To place something into separate compartments [sections]

Suffix -ize Wordlist – Definitions and Examples

actualize – to make something actual [real]

  • After 7 years of hard work and determination here finally actualized his dream of owning a small hotel on the beach. 

apologize – to make an apology for doing something wrong

  • I apologize if anything I said was misunderstood. 

authorize – to give permission, to authorize

  • I don’t think that you are authorized to make those kinds of decisions. I’m going to call the boss and double-check. 

capitalize – to write or print a letter of the alphabet as a capital

  • You should capitalize the first letter of a sentence and any proper nouns. 

capitalize on – to gain a further advantage for yourself from a situation

  • Big energy companies are trying to capitalize on people’s growing interest in renewable energy. Many big oil companies are investing in wind and solar energy production. 

centralize – to give the control of a country or an organization to a group of people in one central  place

  • To cut costs, the local government is going to centralize 3 smaller hospitals in the area.

compartmentalize – to place something into separate compartments [sections]

  • Business Leaders need to find a way to compartmentalize their work life and their home life. If they don’t it can cause real problems at home for them and their families. 

conceptualize – to make an idea [a concept] of something in your mind

  • The scope and size of the universe it’s hard to conceptualize for most people. It’s too big! 

criminalize – to make something illegal [a crime] by passing a new law

  • The police cannot criminalize an activity that is protected by the Constitution. 

criticize – to say that you think somebody/something is bad

  • I hate to criticize but that play was just awful. I didn’t feel any of the actors were very convincing in their roles.

customize –  to make or change something to suit the needs of the owner or user [make it custom]

  • I’m excited about my new car and I can’t wait until I customize it and make it even better. 

dramatize – to present a book, an event, etc. as a play or a film [to make a drama]

  • The movie did a great job dramatizing the struggle of factory workers 50 years ago. I plan to watch the movie a second time, I really enjoyed it.

emphasize – to give special importance to something [to give something emphasis]

  • The sales presentation next week is very important, I can’t emphasize this enough. 

de-emphasize – to reduce in relative importance [take away emphasis]

  • People are encouraged to commute by bicycle as a way to de-emphasize the role of cars in cities. Some countries in Europe will help pay for your electric bike.

equalize – to make things equal in size, quantity, value, etc.

  • The goal is to equalize opportunities for all people to go to university no matter how much money they have. 

familiarize – to learn about something or teach somebody about something, so that you/they start to understand it [to become familiar]

  • After I moved to Chiba last August I took time to familiarize myself with the local area. It’s good to know where all the stores, services, and coffee shops are located. 

finalize – to complete the last part of something [to do the final part]

  • I just finalized a new three-year contract with the school where I teach and I couldn’t be happier. 

harmonize – go well together and produce an attractive result [to achieve harmony]

  • Donovan hired an interior decorator the help harmonize his new home office. 

hospitalize – to put in the hospital

  • After the accident, I was hospitalized for 2 months. Thankfully, I made a full recovery.

humanize –  to make something more pleasant or suitable for people; to make something more human

  • After the public scandal, Will really tried to humanize himself in the public’s eyes. People thought of him as a kind of monster after what he did. 

immortalize – to prevent somebody/something from being forgotten in the future, especially by mentioning them in literature, making films about them, painting them, etc. [make them immortal]

  • Shakespeare’s works have immortalized him. His contribution to English literature will never be forgotten. 

immunize – to protect a person or an animal from a disease, especially by giving them an injection of a vaccine [to make immune]

  • There is a debate now on whether or not we should immunize children under 4. 

jeopardize – to risk harming or destroying something/somebody [to make jeopardy]

  • Some feel that immunizing young children may jeopardize their health.

legalize – to make legal

  • The country has voted to legalize marijuana. Now the government can control the sale and earn taxes. 

marginalize – to make somebody feel as if they are not important and cannot influence decisions or events; to put somebody in a position in which they have no power [to make marginal]

  • We want to make sure that everyone has a voice and that no one feels the government is trying to marginalize them. 

maximize – to increase something as much as possible [make something the maximum]

  • In an effort to maximize profits the company is reducing its staff.

memorize – to learn something carefully so that you can remember it exactly [to make it stay in your memory] 

  • The best way to memorize new vocabulary and grammar is the see the words used in real sentences. 

minimize – to reduce something, especially something bad, to the lowest possible level [make something the minimum]

  • Stuntpeople perform dangerous acts but they always try to minimize the risks as much as possible. 

modernize – to make something more modern

  • The city wants to modernize the old theater downtown but they just don’t have the money. 

moisturize – to add moisture, to make moist

  • The winter months are very dry so it’s important to moisturize every night before you go to sleep. This will protect your skin from drying out. 

neutralize – to stop something from having any effect [to make neutral] 

  • If we want to win the game tonight we must neutralize their top scorer. 

normalize – to fit or make something fit a normal pattern or condition [to make it normal]

  • After some unfair trading practices, the two countries began to normalize relations. 

penalize – to punish somebody [to give them a penalty]

  • Companies will be penalized for not following the updated Environmental laws. They could face fines of as much as $100,000. 

personalize – to mark something in some way to show that it belongs to a particular person 

  • My wife bought me a personalized Tommy Hilfiger wallet for my birthday. It has my name written on the side.

polarize – to separate or make people separate into two groups with completely opposite opinions [to move people to polar (opposite) sides of an issue]

  • Same-sex marriage has been a very polarizing issue in the United States. 

popularize – to make something popular

  • A small group is trying to popularize the art of calligraphy again at my school. 

privatize – to sell a business or an industry so that it is no longer owned by the government [to make something private]

  • Trash pickup and disposal have now been privatized in my city. The local government is no longer picking up trash. 

publicize – to make something known to the public; to advertise something

  • Facebook is a great place to publicize your daily events. You can share these moments with all of your friends and followers.

revitalize – to make something stronger, more active, or more healthy [make more vital]

  • The city wants to revitalize the downtown core with a new art gallery and movie theater. 

socialize –  to meet and spend time with people in a friendly way, in order to enjoy yourself [to become social]

  • I enjoy socializing on the weekends. 

specialize – to become an expert in a particular area of work, study or business; to spend more time on one area of work, etc. than on others [make something your specialty]

  • Grace knew as soon as she got accepted to medical school that she wanted to specialize in the care of babies and young children. 

stabilize – to become stable

  • After years of fighting and political uncertainty, the country has finally stabilized with a peaceful future and a growing economy. 

sterilize – to kill the bacteria in or on something [to become sterile]

  • Doctors have special machines to sterilize their tools and instruments. 

sympathize – to feel sorry for somebody; to show that you understand and feel sorry about somebody’s problems [to become sympathetic] 

  • William just lost his job, the same thing happened to me last year so I can sympathize.  I’m sure he can find a new job soon, just like I did. 

terrorize – to frighten and threaten people so that they will not oppose something or will do as they are told [to cause terror]

  • Hoodlums are terrorizing the local community. 

*Hoodlums is sometimes shortened to ‘hoods.’ Learn more about the suffix -hood add my blog post > How do you use the suffix -hood? (16 Common Examples)

utilize – to use something, especially for a practical purpose

  • There are a lot of helpful government programs that people could utilize if they knew about them. 

vandalize – to damage something, especially public property, deliberately and for no good reason [to cause vandalism]

  • The school was vandalized last night. Windows were broken and there was spray paint on the walls. 

verbalize – to express your feelings or ideas in words [to be verbal]

  • It can be difficult for younger people to verbalize their feelings and ask for help. 

visualize – to form a picture of somebody/something in your mind [to make a vision]

  • It can be helpful to visualize a successful future for yourself. It’s like a program for your brain with software to help you succeed. 

This post is part of a group of posts that take a look at the suffix -ize. Visit these other posts and do a deeper dive into this suffix.

What Is The Origin of The Suffix -ize? (History and Development)
Worldenglishblog.com/origin-of-the-suffix-ize/

What’s the Difference Between the Suffixes -IZE and -ISE?
Worldenglishblog.com/suffix-ize-and-ise/

Confusing Suffixes -ize and -ify (How and When to Use Them)
Worldenglishblog.com/confusing-suffixes-ize-and-ify/

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