de·sen·si·tize / dēˈsensiˌtīz/ • v. [tr.] make less sensitive: creams to desensitize the skin at the site of the injection. ∎ make (someone) less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty, violence, or suffering by overexposure to such images: [as adj.] (desensitized) people who view such movies become desensitized to violence. ∎ free (someone) from a phobia or neurosis by gradually exposing the person to the thing that is feared. See systematic desensitization. DERIVATIVES: de·sen·si·ti·za·tion / dēˌsensitəˈzāshən/ n. de·sen·si·tiz·er n.