Chemical reaction in which water (HO or HOH) and another reactant exchange functional groups to form two products, one containing the H and the other the OH. In most hydrolyses involving organic compounds, the other reactants and products are neutral; for example, an ester can be hydrolyzed to form a carboxylic acid and an alcohol. Such reactions are often accelerated by enzymes (as in much of digestion and metabolism in general) or other catalysts. In hydrolyses of compounds with ionic bonds, the nonwater reactants are salts, acids, or bases, participating in dissociation reactions.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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