[ muh-tab-uh-liz-uhm ]
/ məˈtæb əˌlɪz əm /
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Biology, Physiology. the sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.Compare anabolism, catabolism.
any basic process of organic functioning or operating: changes in the country's economic metabolism.


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Origin of metabolism

1875–80; <Greek metabol() change (meta-meta- + bolḗ a throw) + -ism


hy·per·me·tab·o·lism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use metabolism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for metabolism

/ (mɪˈtæbəˌlɪzəm) /

the sum total of the chemical processes that occur in living organisms, resulting in growth, production of energy, elimination of waste material, etcSee anabolism, basal metabolism, catabolism
the sum total of the chemical processes affecting a particular substance in the bodycarbohydrate metabolism; iodine metabolism

Derived forms of metabolism

metabolic (ˌmɛtəˈbɒlɪk), adjectivemetabolically, adverb

Word Origin for metabolism

C19: from Greek metabolē change, from metaballein to change, from meta- + 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

Scientific definitions for metabolism

[ mĭ-tăbə-lĭz′əm ]

The chemical processes by which cells produce the substances and energy needed to sustain life. As part of metabolism, organic compounds are broken down to provide heat and energy in the process called catabolism. Simpler molecules are also used to build more complex compounds like proteins for growth and repair of tissues as part of anabolism. Many metabolic processes are brought about by the action of enzymes. The overall speed at which an organism carries out its metabolic processes is termed its metabolic rate (or, when the organism is at rest, its basal metabolic rate). Birds, for example, have a high metabolic rate, since they are warm-blooded, and their usual method of locomotion, flight, requires large amounts of energy. Accordingly, birds usually need large amounts of high-quality, energy-rich foods such as seeds or meat, which they must eat frequently. See more at cellular respiration.

Other words from metabolism

metabolic adjective (mĕt′ə-bŏlĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for metabolism

[ (muh-tab-uh-liz-uhm) ]

The total of the chemical reactions that maintain the life of a living thing.

notes for metabolism

In humans, metabolism is related to the intake and use of food; persons with a high metabolism can eat more without gaining weight.
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.