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[kuh-tab-uh-liz-uh m] /kəˈtæb əˌlɪz əm/
noun, Biology, Physiology.
destructive metabolism; the breaking down in living organisms of more complex substances into simpler ones, with the release of energy (opposed to anabolism).
Origin of catabolism
1875-80; < Greek katabol(ḗ) a throwing down (kata- cata- + bolḗ a throw; compare katabállein to throw down) + -ism
Related forms
[kat-uh-bol-ik] /ˌkæt əˈbɒl ɪk/ (Show IPA),
catabolically, adverb
hypercatabolism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for catabolic


a metabolic process in which complex molecules are broken down into simple ones with the release of energy; destructive metabolism Compare anabolism
Derived Forms
catabolic, katabolic (ˌkætəˈbɒlɪk) adjective
catabolically, katabolically, adverb
Word Origin
C19 katabolism, from Greek katabolē a throwing down, from kataballein, from kata- down + ballein to throw
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for catabolic

1876; see catabolism + -ic.



1876, katabolism, "destructive metabolism," from Greek katabole "a throwing down" (also "a foundation"), from kataballein "to throw down," from kata- "down" (see cata-) + ballein "to throw" (see ballistics). Barnhart says probably formed in English on the model of metabolism. Spelling Latinized from 1889.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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catabolic in Medicine

catabolism ca·tab·o·lism (kə-tāb'ə-lĭz'əm)
The metabolic breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones, often resulting in a release of energy.

cat'a·bol'ic (kāt'ə-bŏl'ĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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catabolic in Science
The phase of metabolism in which energy, in the form of ATP, is produced by the breakdown of complex molecules, such as starches, proteins and fats, into simpler ones. Compare anabolism.

catabolic adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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catabolic in Culture

catabolism definition

Biochemical reactions that break down molecules in metabolism. Molecules may be broken down to gain their energy or to prepare them for disposal from the body. (Compare anabolism.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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