[kuh-tab-uh-liz-uh m]

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 formscat·a·bol·ic [kat-uh-bol-ik] /ˌkæt əˈbɒl ɪk/, adjectivecat·a·bol·i·cal·ly, adverbhy·per·ca·tab·o·lism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for catabolism

Contemporary Examples of catabolism

  • In this way, anabolism and catabolism exist in balance with each other and are the ying and the yang of metabolism.

    The Daily Beast logo
    5 Metabolism Myths Debunked

    Sarah Whitman-Salkin

    August 25, 2009

  • In catabolism, cells break down those large molecules to release energy and dispose of waste.

    The Daily Beast logo
    5 Metabolism Myths Debunked

    Sarah Whitman-Salkin

    August 25, 2009

Historical Examples of catabolism

  • We have seen that a centre of catabolism is a hypertonic focus of diffusion.

  • Every centre of catabolism is therefore a positive pole of diffusion.

  • Swelling of the spleen is caused by catabolism of the Malpighian bodies.

    Valere Aude

    Louis Dechmann

  • He thinks of the world as an animal organism subject to what are now called anabolism and catabolism.

  • Similar considerations as to the formation and breaking up of the molecules in anabolism and catabolism apply to polymerization.

British Dictionary definitions for catabolism




a metabolic process in which complex molecules are broken down into simple ones with the release of energy; destructive metabolismCompare anabolism
Derived Formscatabolic or katabolic (ˌkætəˈbɒlɪk), adjectivecatabolically or katabolically, adverb

Word Origin for catabolism

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

Word Origin and History for catabolism

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

Medicine definitions for catabolism




The metabolic breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones, often resulting in a release of energy.
Related formscat′a•bolic (kăt′ə-bŏlĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for catabolism



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.
Related formscatabolic adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for catabolism


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.