• synonyms


[ih-lek-trol-uh-sis, ee-lek-]
  1. Physical Chemistry. the passage of an electric current through an electrolyte with subsequent migration of positively and negatively charged ions to the negative and positive electrodes.
  2. the destruction of hair roots, tumors, etc., by an electric current.
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Origin of electrolysis

First recorded in 1830–40; electro- + -lysis
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for electrolysis

Historical Examples of electrolysis

  • We must, therefore, learn something about the subject of electrolysis.

    Electricity for Boys

    J. S. Zerbe

  • The metals were first prepared by Davy in 1808 by electrolysis.

  • This is melted in an iron pot which also serves as the cathode in the electrolysis.

  • What metals and compounds studied are prepared by electrolysis?

  • This method may not be a cure for electrolysis, but will add to the life of the pipe.

British Dictionary definitions for electrolysis


  1. the conduction of electricity by a solution or melt, esp the use of this process to induce chemical changes
  2. the destruction of living tissue, such as hair roots, by an electric current, usually for cosmetic reasons
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Word Origin for electrolysis

C19: from electro- + -lysis
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 electrolysis


1834, introduced by Faraday on the suggestion of the Rev. William Whewell (1794-1866), English polymath, from electro- + Greek lysis "a loosening," from lyein "to loosen, set free" (see lose). Originally of tumors, later (1909) of hair removal.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

electrolysis in Medicine


(ĭ-lĕk-trŏlĭ-sĭs, ē′lĕk-)
  1. Chemical change, especially decomposition, that is produced in an electrolyte by an electric current.
  2. Destruction of living tissue, especially that of the hair roots, by means of an electric current applied with a needle-shaped electrode.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

electrolysis in Science


  1. A process in which a chemical change, especially decomposition, is brought about by passing an electric current through a solution of electrolytes so that the electrolyte's ions move toward the negative and positive electrodes and react with them. If negative ions move toward the anode, they lose electrons and become neutral, resulting in an oxidation reaction. This also happens if atoms of the anode lose electrons and go into the electrolyte solution as positive ions. If positive ions move toward the cathode and gain electrons, becoming neutral, a reduction reaction takes place. Electrolysis is used for many purposes, including the extraction of metals from ores, the cleaning of archaeological artifacts, and the coating of materials with thin layers of metal (electroplating).
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

electrolysis in Culture



In chemistry, any process that brings about a chemical reaction by passing electric current (see also current) through a material.

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The most common form of electrolysis is electroplating, in which a thin coat of metal is deposited on a solid object.
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.