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[lahy-sis] /ˈlaɪ sɪs/
noun, plural lyses [lahy-seez] /ˈlaɪ siz/ (Show IPA)
Immunology, Biochemistry. the dissolution or destruction of cells by lysins.
Medicine/Medical. the gradual recession of a disease.
Compare crisis (def 4).
Origin of lysis
1815-25; < New Latin < Greek lýsis a loosening, releasing, equivalent to ly-, variant stem of lȳ́(ein) to loosen, release + -sis -sis


a combining form with the meaning “breaking down, loosening, decomposition,” used in the formation of compound words:
analysis; electrolysis; paralysis.
From Greek; See origin at lysis Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for lysis
Historical Examples
  • Suppose that you tell him yourself, lysis, I replied; for I am sure that you were attending.

    Lysis Plato
  • No answer is given in the lysis to the question, 'What is Friendship?'

    Lysis Plato
  • In the Charmides, as also in the Laches, he is described as middle-aged; in the lysis he is advanced in years.

    Lysis Plato
  • Many of them will be found to be the same which are discussed in the lysis.

    Lysis Plato
  • All of them profess to discover in the lysis “adolescentiæ vestigia”.

  • There was also a circle of lookers-on; among them was lysis.

    Lysis Plato
  • lysis entreats Sokrates to talk in the like strain to Menexenus.

  • I dare say, lysis, I said, that your father and mother love you very much.

    Lysis Plato
  • The pneumonia did not end by crisis but by lysis and for weeks he had very little sleep.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
  • And you, lysis, if you require a teacher, have not yet attained to wisdom.

    Lysis Plato
British Dictionary definitions for lysis


noun (pl) -ses (-siːz)
the destruction or dissolution of cells by the action of a particular lysin
(med) the gradual reduction in severity of the symptoms of a disease
Word Origin
C19: New Latin, from Greek, from luein to release


combining form
indicating a loosening, decomposition, or breaking down: electrolysis, paralysis
Word Origin
from Greek, from lusis a loosening; see lysis
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 lysis

"dissolution of cells, bacteria, etc.," 1902, from Latin lysis, from Greek lysis "a loosening," from lyein "to unfasten, loose, loosen, untie" (see lose).


scientific/medical word-forming element meaning "loosening, dissolving, dissolution," from Greek lysis "a loosening, setting free, releasing, dissolution," from lyein "to unfasten, loose, loosen, untie" (see lose).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lysis in Medicine

lysis ly·sis (lī'sĭs)
n. pl. ly·ses (-sēz)

  1. The gradual subsiding of the symptoms of an acute disease; a form of the recovery process.

  2. The dissolution or destruction of cells, such as blood cells or bacteria, as by the action of a specific lysin.

-lysis suff.
Decomposition; dissolving; disintegration: hydrolysis.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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lysis in Science
The disintegration of a cell resulting from destruction of its membrane by a chemical substance, especially an antibody or enzyme.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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