• synonyms


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

First recorded in 1900–05; auto-1 + -lysis
Related formsau·to·lyt·ic [awt-l-it-ik] /ˌɔt lˈɪt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for autolysis

Historical Examples of autolysis

  • This process of self-digestion is known technically as autolysis.

    The Fundamentals of Bacteriology

    Charles Bradfield Morrey

  • This disintegration may be due to a process of autolysis, which sets in only after the egg has extruded the two polar bodies.

  • Such a constituent may be responsible for phagocytosis and autolysis in the organs undergoing absorption.

  • The products of this autolysis are carried by the lymphatics to healthy tissues and thus may spread the infection.

  • Only in tumors in which autolysis is active intra vitam does the method exert any effect.

British Dictionary definitions for autolysis


  1. the destruction of cells and tissues of an organism by enzymes produced by the cells themselves
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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

autolysis 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
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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.