noun, plural ca·tal·y·ses [kuh-tal-uh-seez] /kəˈtæl əˌsiz/.

Chemistry. the causing or accelerating of a chemical change by the addition of a catalyst.
an action between two or more persons or forces, initiated by an agent that itself remains unaffected by the action: social catalyses occasioned by controversial writings.

Origin of catalysis

1645–55; < New Latin < Greek katálȳsis dissolution, equivalent to katalȳ́(ein) to dissolve (kata- cata- + lȳ́ein to loosen) + -sis -sis
Related formscat·a·lyt·ic [kat-l-it-ik] /ˌkæt lˈɪt ɪk/, adjective, nouncat·a·lyt·i·cal, adjectivecat·a·lyt·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti·cat·a·lyt·ic, adjective, nounan·ti·cat·a·lyt·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·cat·a·lyt·ic, adjective, nounnon·cat·a·lyt·i·cal·ly, adverbself-ca·tal·y·sis, nounsem·i·cat·a·lyt·ic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of catalytic

Historical Examples of catalytic

British Dictionary definitions for catalytic



of or relating to catalysis; involving a catalyst
Derived Formscatalytically, adverb


noun plural -ses (-ˌsiːz)

acceleration of a chemical reaction by the action of a catalyst

Word Origin for catalysis

C17: from New Latin, from Greek katalusis, from kataluein to dissolve
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 catalytic

1836, from Latinized form of Greek katalytikos "able to dissolve," from katalyein (see catalysis).



1650s, "dissolution," from Latinized form of Greek katalysis "dissolution, a dissolving" (of governments, military units, etc.), from katalyein "to dissolve," from kata- "down" (or "completely"), see cata-, + lyein "to loosen" (see lose). Chemical sense "change caused by an agent which itself remains unchanged" is attested from 1836, introduced by Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius (1779-1848).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

catalytic in Medicine



n. pl. ca•tal•y•ses (-sēz′)

The action of a catalyst, especially an increase in the rate of a chemical reaction.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

catalytic in Science



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