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[muh-tab-uh-liz-uh m] /məˈtæb əˌlɪz əm/
Biology, Physiology. the sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.
any basic process of organic functioning or operating:
changes in the country's economic metabolism.
Origin of metabolism
1875-80; < Greek metabol(ḗ) change (meta- meta- + bolḗ a throw) + -ism
Related forms
hypermetabolism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for hypermetabolism


the sum total of the chemical processes that occur in living organisms, resulting in growth, production of energy, elimination of waste material, etc See anabolism, basal metabolism, catabolism
the sum total of the chemical processes affecting a particular substance in the body: carbohydrate metabolism, iodine metabolism
Derived Forms
metabolic (ˌmɛtəˈbɒlɪk) adjective
metabolically, adverb
Word Origin
C19: from Greek metabolē change, from metaballein to change, from meta- + 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 hypermetabolism



in physiology sense, 1878, from French métabolisme, from Greek metabole "a change," from metaballein "to change," from meta- "over" (see meta-) + ballein "to throw" (see ballistics).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hypermetabolism in Medicine

hypermetabolism hy·per·me·tab·o·lism (hī'pər-mĭ-tāb'ə-lĭz'əm)
An abnormal increase in metabolic rate.

metabolism me·tab·o·lism (mĭ-tāb'ə-lĭz'əm)

  1. The complex of physical and chemical processes occurring within a living cell or organism that are necessary for the maintenance of life. In metabolism some substances are broken down to yield energy for vital processes while other substances, necessary for life, are synthesized.

  2. The functioning of a specific substance, such as water, within the living body.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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hypermetabolism in Science
The chemical processes by which cells produce the substances and energy needed to sustain life. As part of metabolism, organic compounds are broken down to provide heat and energy in the process called catabolism. Simpler molecules are also used to build more complex compounds like proteins for growth and repair of tissues as part of anabolism. Many metabolic processes are brought about by the action of enzymes. The overall speed at which an organism carries out its metabolic processes is termed its metabolic rate (or, when the organism is at rest, its basal metabolic rate). Birds, for example, have a high metabolic rate, since they are warm-blooded, and their usual method of locomotion, flight, requires large amounts of energy. Accordingly, birds usually need large amounts of high-quality, energy-rich foods such as seeds or meat, which they must eat frequently. See more at cellular respiration.

metabolic adjective (mět'ə-bŏl'ĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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hypermetabolism in Culture
metabolism [(muh-tab-uh-liz-uhm)]

The total of the chemical reactions that maintain the life of a living thing.

Note: In humans, metabolism is related to the intake and use of food; persons with a high metabolism can eat more without gaining weight.
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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