catalyst

[ kat-l-ist ]
/ ˈkæt l ɪst /

noun

Chemistry. a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.
something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
a person or thing that precipitates an event or change: His imprisonment by the government served as the catalyst that helped transform social unrest into revolution.
a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.

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A catalyst means "something that causes activity, an event, or change." And usually, these events and changes are big. But, can a catalyst be a person?

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Origin of catalyst

First recorded in 1900–05; cataly(sis) + (-i)st

OTHER WORDS FROM catalyst

self-cat·a·lyst, nounsem·i·cat·a·lyst, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for catalyst

British Dictionary definitions for catalyst

catalyst
/ (ˈkætəlɪst) /

noun

a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself suffering any permanent chemical changeCompare inhibitor (def. 2)
a person or thing that causes a change
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

Medical definitions for catalyst

catalyst
[ kătl-ĭst ]

n.

A substance, usually used in small amounts relative to the reactants, that modifies and increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process.

Other words from catalyst

cat′a•lytic (kăt′l-ĭtĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for catalyst

catalyst
[ kătl-ĭst ]

A substance that starts or speeds up a chemical reaction while undergoing no permanent change itself. The enzymes in saliva, for example, are catalysts in digestion.

Other words from catalyst

catalytic adjective (kăt′l-ĭtĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for catalyst

catalyst
[ (kat-uh-list) ]

In chemistry, a substance that causes a chemical reaction to occur but is not itself involved in the reaction.

notes for catalyst

The term catalyst is often used to refer to the prime agent of any change: “She was the catalyst for the reorganization.”
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.