noun Biochemistry.
  1. the breakdown of plant or animal tissue by the action of enzymes contained in the tissue affected; self-digestion.

Origin of autolysis

First recorded in 1900–05; auto-1 + -lysis
Related formsau·to·lyt·ic [awt-l-it-ik] /ˌɔt lˈɪt ɪk/, adjective


verb (used with object), au·to·lyzed, au·to·lyz·ing.
  1. to cause to undergo autolysis.
verb (used without object), au·to·lyzed, au·to·lyz·ing.
  1. to undergo autolysis.
Also especially British, au·to·lyse.

Origin of autolyze

1900–05; back formation from autolysis, on the model of analyze Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for autolyses


  1. the destruction of cells and tissues of an organism by enzymes produced by the cells themselves
Derived Formsautolytic (ˌɔːtəˈlɪtɪk), adjective

Word Origin for autolysis

C20: via German from Greek autos self + lusis loosening, release
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

autolyses in Medicine


  1. The destruction of tissues or cells of an organism by the action of substances, such as enzymes, that are produced within the organism.
  2. Self-destruction of tissues within the living body.autodigestion
  3. The hemolytic action of blood serum or plasma upon its own cells.autocytolysis
Related formsau′to•lytic (ô′tə-lĭtĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.