From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.44 [gcide]:
3. (Microbiology, Medicine) To destroy all spores or germs in (an organic fluid or mixture) or on (a medical instrument), as by heat, so as to prevent contamination by bacteria or other organisms. A common method of sterilization in laboratories and medical facilities is to heat a liquid sample or an instrument in an autoclave. [1913 Webster +PJC]
From WordNet (r) 2.0 [wn]:
From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 [moby-thes]:
36 Moby Thesaurus words for "sterilize": alter, antisepticize, autoclave, boil, castrate, change, chlorinate, clean, cleanse, decontaminate, delouse, demasculinize, depurate, desex, desexualize, devitalize, disinfect, effeminize, emasculate, enervate, etiolate, exhaust, fix, fumigate, geld, hygienize, mutilate, neuter, pasteurize, purify, sanitate, sanitize, spay, unman, unnerve, unsex
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