• synonyms


noun, plural ca·tal·y·ses [kuh-tal-uh-seez] /kəˈtæl əˌsiz/.
  1. Chemistry. the causing or accelerating of a chemical change by the addition of a catalyst.
  2. 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.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for catalytic


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


noun plural -ses (-ˌsiːz)
  1. acceleration of a chemical reaction by the action of a catalyst
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Word Origin

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).

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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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

catalytic in Medicine


n. pl. ca•tal•y•ses (-sēz′)
  1. The action of a catalyst, especially an increase in the rate of a chemical reaction.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

catalytic in Science


  1. 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.
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Related formscatalytic adjective (kăt′l-ĭtĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.