To cause to become real or actual: By building the house, we materialized a dream.
To cause to become materialistic: “Inequality has the natural and necessary effect . . . of materializing our upper class, vulgarizing our middle class, and brutalizing our lower class”(Matthew Arnold).
To assume material or effective form: Their support on the eastern flank did not materialize.
To take physical form or shape.
To appear, especially suddenly. See Synonyms at appear.
Usage Note: In its original senses materialize is used without an object to mean “to assume material form,” as in Marley's ghost materialized before Scrooge's eyes, or with an object to mean “to cause to assume material form,” as in Disney materialized his dream in a plot of orchard land in Orange County. But these uses are probably less common nowadays than two extended senses of the verb. In the first, the meaning is roughly “to appear suddenly,” as in No sooner had we set the menu down than a waiter materialized at our table. Some critics have labeled this use as pretentious or incorrect, but it has been around for more than a century, appears in the writing of highly respected writers, and seems a natural extension of the original sense. The second meaning is “to take effective shape, come into existence.” In this use, materialize tends to be applied to things or events that have been foreseen or anticipated, and usually occurs in negative constructions: The promised subsidies never materialized. It was thought the community would oppose the measure, but no new objections materialized. While objections continue to materialize against this usage, it too is well established in reputable writing and follows a familiar pattern of metaphoric extension.