Definition of desensitize in English:


(British desensitise)


[with object]
  • 1Make less sensitive.

    ‘creams to desensitize the skin at the site of the injection’
    • ‘Applying lidocaine cream to your forehead may relieve migraine pain by desensitizing the nerves that trigger it.’
    • ‘Topical application of agents including caries preventive agents, tooth desensitising agents, surface anaesthetic and plaque controlling agents.’
    • ‘The goal is to desensitize you to specific allergens and decrease or eliminate your need for medications.’
    • ‘Slapping the injection site accomplishes two things: it mildly desensitizes the area and it reduces the chance of the horse reacting to the prick of the needle.’
    • ‘The CAM practitioner injects extracts of suspected allergens under your skin with the goal of eventually desensitizing you to them.’
    • ‘If your symptoms are especially difficult to control, your doctor may recommend allergy shots to desensitize you to dust mites.’
    • ‘Ice cold beverages desensitize the taste-buds and prevent the evaporation of the volatile components that contribute aroma.’
    • ‘The treatment works by desensitising the immune system so its reaction to a particular substance is reduced over time.’
    • ‘With fewer receptors, the dopamine system is desensitized, and the now-understimulated addict needs more and more of the drug to feel anything at all.’
    • ‘Allergy shots are used to desensitize you to certain allergies.’
    • ‘In some cases, an allergist may recommend immunotherapy (allergy shots) to help desensitize your child.’
    • ‘Confused by this, I rub along the sides of my mouth, desensitizing my over-active nerves.’
    • ‘Achieving good flavor qualities in an ice cream presents specific challenges: low temperature desensitizes or dulls the taste buds, so a potent flavor is required.’
    • ‘Once the cause of your allergy has been ascertained and a positive skin test obtained, then a specific vaccine can be created to desensitise you against the allergen that is triggering your symptoms.’
    • ‘Capsaicin first activates the pain receptors, causing a mild burning sensation, but upon repeated application to the skin it desensitizes the receptors and relieves the pain.’
    • ‘The treatment works by desensitizing the animals' immune system to a protein residing within their blood vessels.’
    deprived of sensation, without feeling, numbed, benumbed, dead, deadened, desensitized, insensible, insensate, senseless, unfeeling
    deaden, deprive of sensation, benumb, render insensitive, dull
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    1. 1.1 Make (someone) less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty or suffering by overexposure to such images.
      ‘the media had desensitized him to the horror of violence’
      • ‘By watching these clips to see how they are achieved you probably no longer find them so shocking - you've become desensitized to them.’
      • ‘When you're a nurse, you see so much sadness and pain on a daily basis that you almost have to desensitize yourself to it just to stay sane.’
      • ‘People are desensitized to violence - you see so much of it on a regular basis on TV and in the movies, or you see these stories on the news about people dying from gun crime, but it doesn't sink in.’
      • ‘And so, in America we desensitize ourselves to what is about to occur.’
      • ‘With increased exposure to such scenes, we become desensitized to the fear of blood which has been instilled in us.’
      • ‘It also desensitizes young people about the world they live in,’ she says.’
      • ‘Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that if we desensitize ourselves enough, we can condone any immoral action.’
      • ‘Of course, once you start watching it, you'll have to get desensitized in a hurry.’
      • ‘Young people, he said, share a common culture that has been shaped by television shows that desensitize youth to violence and often have revenge as a central point in the plot.’
      • ‘Do your think your children are becoming desensitized by what they see and hear?’
      • ‘Many of them have also been desensitized to acts of extreme violence.’
      • ‘The war's cruelty has shocked a country that thought it was desensitized to violence.’
      • ‘As violence of any kind is legalized, the society becomes desensitized, resulting in an increase in violence and crime.’
      • ‘A child who repeatedly sees violence or insensitivity towards himself, other human beings or animals becomes desensitized himself.’
      • ‘Are we being desensitized to these graphic pictures?’
      • ‘I cringe, but I'm desensitized to most of the stuff I hear.’
      • ‘The constant plague of dreams had desensitized him to its images, and so he now only saw the visions fly past his eyes without actually feeling anything.’
      • ‘And yet, as a whole, people are so desensitized to the whole idea of explosions and molecules that they barely even stop to think about how this could effect the world.’
      • ‘Living by a prison was a culture shock at first for many of the families, but as time rolled on, everyone became desensitized by it.’
      • ‘In the same way, most of us are desensitized to the pervasive presence of the written word in our daily lives.’
    2. 1.2 Free (someone) from a phobia or neurosis by gradually exposing them to the thing that is feared.
      • ‘Sexual offenders often begin this process with nonsexual physical contact and may proceed with sexual discussions in order to desensitize the victim.’
      • ‘The goal is to modify dysfunctional cognitions and to desensitize patients to the fear and anxiety associated with certain situations.’
      • ‘This finding may have therapeutic applications; however, it may also be applicable in advertising to desensitize fear of a dangerous product, such as cigarettes.’
      • ‘At this time, the patient is open to suggestion, and can be desensitised towards fears, phobias, pain and personal issues.’
      • ‘I mentally made myself a reminder to desensitize her to balloons.’