Definition of neutralize in US English:


(British neutralise)


[with object]
  • 1Render (something) ineffective or harmless by applying an opposite force or effect.

    ‘impatience at his frailty began to neutralize her fear’
    • ‘In addition, any other effects of cortisol are neutralized by RU - 486.’
    • ‘Modern training methods teach us to keep shooting until the threat is neutralized, and most begin with a double-tap.’
    • ‘The answer is not for society to abandon religion but for the state to recognize it as private and to neutralize it as a political force.’
    • ‘Objectivity does not depend on each of us being severally devoid of extra-disciplinary values; competition and collaboration neutralize the distorting effects of any one scholar's biases.’
    • ‘Given the extent of this hostility to the creation of ‘fatherless’ children, some concession was needed in order to neutralise parliamentary opposition to the bill.’
    • ‘The woman throws away the blade and whips out a gun, though not before I have neutralised her attempt at deadly physical force.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, two studies published in Nature this past July suggest that forests are not nearly as effective in neutralizing emissions as was thought.’
    • ‘This has the odd effect of partially neutralising Dafoe's excellent performance, creating a character who is Bugs Bunny-like, capable of partaking in comic one-liners.’
    • ‘‘We applied a special tactic with which we neutralized the French attack,’ said the coach Hristo Iliev.’
    • ‘Again hospital treatment is necessary to neutralise these effects.’
    • ‘When companies institute them, performance improves enough that the effects of dilution are neutralized, and the existing shareholders wind up doing as well as, or better than, they did before the issuance of the options.’
    • ‘The conversion of major trunk carriers such as Continental and United and smaller airlines such as Hughes Airwest and Frontier, drove a wedge through the airlines and neutralized the ATA as an opposition force.’
    • ‘In many ways, Booth argued, even political action is part of the strategy to neutralize employer opposition.’
    • ‘The ‘golden rule’ dictates that any extra spending must not be financed by higher taxation, neutralising the effect on demand.’
    • ‘There are limits to what education can achieve when its effects are neutralized by other obstacles to development.’
    • ‘‘Events on Thursday seemed to neutralise this effect,’ said a British official.’
    • ‘This will neutralise the effect on domestic demand.’
    • ‘Winfield has excellent coverage skills and often was able to neutralize the slot receiver opposite him.’
    • ‘In each case, the machinery of government was used against the citizens to consolidate power and neutralise opposition.’
    • ‘Self-realization and understanding is able to neutralize the effects of anger.’
    counteract, offset, counterbalance, balance, balance out, counterpoise, countervail, compensate for, make up for
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    1. 1.1 Make (an acidic or alkaline substance) chemically neutral.
      • ‘It is also the opposite of baking and washing soda; it is acidic and therefore neutralizes alkaline or caustic substances.’
      • ‘The stop bath's acidic nature rapidly neutralizes any alkaline developer which has not been removed.’
      • ‘This neutralizes carbonic acid and transports carbon dioxide in the blood.’
      • ‘Alkali-resistant paints should be used and a zinc chloride or zinc sulfate solution may need to be applied to the wall to neutralize the surface.’
      • ‘Baking soda, a gentle alkaline powder, neutralizes odor-causing acids by restoring your skin's natural pH level.’
    2. 1.2 Disarm (a bomb or similar weapon).
      • ‘It will be up to special forces to neutralise the mines.’
      • ‘This strategy will involve close cooperation between India, the United States and possibly Israel, in locating and neutralizing Pakistani nuclear weapons.’
      • ‘Whereas mines are factory made products, which can be neutralised by following known and relatively simple safety procedures, unexploded ordnance and booby traps must be treated individually and can be unstable and unpredictable.’
      • ‘The United States wants to neutralize North Korea's dangerous weapons but at the same time justify its missile shield on the basis of this possible security threat.’
      • ‘After safely moving the dozens of innocent civilians who would likely have otherwise been killed by a blast, the police neutralized the car bomb.’
      • ‘Defense experts are particularly eager to see if e-bombs can reach into deep underground bunkers that could otherwise be neutralized only by tactical nuclear weapons.’
      • ‘Her speed left little sonic shock waves behind her as she almost simultaneously neutralized their detonators, temporarily blinded them, reduced their weapons to junk, and then stunned them.’
      • ‘The goal of this and other testing was to perfect the use of nuclear explosions in space to neutralize the ballistic missiles of a supposed opponent.’
      • ‘Battle Dog then proceeded to mop up, neutralizing the Scimitar's remaining weapon emplacements, rendering it a toothless predator.’
    3. 1.3 A euphemistic way of saying kill or destroy, especially in a covert or military operation.
      • ‘Assassination not only neutralizes the dead man, it also forces other terrorists to go underground.’
      • ‘Although short of airfields and tactical aircraft, 135 airmen neutralized the Korean rail network, forcing the North Koreans to move supplies by convoy across already overextended supply lines.’
      • ‘But al Qaeda and its allies are a real danger to the United States, and these foes cannot be neutralized by military might alone.’
      • ‘The traditional military aims to destroy, defeat, or neutralize the enemy's military capability, and this remains a fundamental concept.’
      • ‘But all international terrorist leaders are yet to be neutralized.’
      kill, do to death, put to death, assassinate, execute, liquidate, eliminate, dispatch, butcher, cut to pieces, slaughter, massacre, wipe out, mow down
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Mid 17th century: from French neutraliser, from medieval Latin neutralizare, from Latin neutralis (see neutral).