gal·​va·​nize | \ˈgal-və-ˌnīz \
galvanized; galvanizing

Definition of galvanize 

transitive verb

1a : to subject to the action of an electric current especially for the purpose of stimulating physiologically galvanize a muscle

b : to stimulate or excite as if by an electric shock an issue that would galvanize public opinion

2 : to coat (iron or steel) with zinc especially : to immerse in molten zinc to produce a coating of zinc-iron alloy

intransitive verb

: to react as if stimulated by an electric shock they galvanized into action

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Other Words from galvanize

galvanization \ ˌgal-​və-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən \ noun
galvanizer \ ˈgal-​və-​ˌnī-​zər \ noun

The Scientific Origins of Galvanize

Luigi Galvani was an Italian physician and physicist who, in the 1770s, studied the electrical nature of nerve impulses by applying electrical stimulation to frogs' leg muscles, causing them to contract. Although Galvani's theory that animal tissue contained an innate electrical impulse was disproven, the Italian word galvanismo came to describe a current of electricity especially when produced by chemical action. English speakers borrowed the word as galvanism around 1797; the verb galvanize appeared a few years later, in the early 19th century. Charlotte Brontë used the verb figuratively in her 1853 novel Villette: "Her approach always galvanized him to new and spasmodic life." These days, galvanize also means to cover metal with zinc or a zinc alloy to protect it from rust (as in galvanized carpentry nails).

Examples of galvanize in a Sentence

The group is hoping to galvanize public opinion against the proposed law. The Web site has galvanized support for the project. a factory where steel is galvanized
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Recent Examples on the Web

How concerned is the administration that this could actually galvanize the Democrats to turn out to vote in November? Fox News, "Kellyanne Conway on growing calls to abolish ICE," 30 June 2018 Pop culture in 2018 can be a wild, galvanizing, polarizing space. Kaitlyn Greenidge, Glamour, "'This Is America' Choreographer Sherrie Silver: Artists Shouldn't Shy Away From Violence," 9 May 2018 The ensuing months-long saga would galvanize a family and spread fear in one of L.A.’s oldest neighborhoods, becoming a very public test case of President Trump’s immigration crackdown. Andrea Castillo,, "How one L.A. father’s arrest put an entire neighborhood on edge," 5 Apr. 2018 If galvanizing around our writers aligns with us being No. 1 at times, so be it. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "No. 11: Jon Platt | Power 100," 25 Jan. 2018 Where Mason was quiet, stoic even, Graham was ebullient and chatty, galvanizing teammates with his words as well as his game. Joan Niesen,, "Devonte Graham and the Importance of Patience," 24 May 2018 The president is trying to use his star power to galvanize his base voters and stave off what history predicts should be losses for the president's party in off-year congressional elections. Philip Rucker, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump, stumping in Nevada, makes immigration a central midterms issue for GOP," 24 June 2018 Related The split concludes a whirlwind eight days that captivated the basketball world, galvanized Internet sleuths and plunged one of the league’s most promising franchises into tumult. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Bryan Colangelo Resigns From 76ers After Twitter Scandal," 7 June 2018 The shooting in Florida - already one of several to take place at a school in 2018 - left 17 students and staff members dead, and galvanized a new generation of activists, including many teenagers from Parkland. The Washington Post,, "Facing boycott, Laura Ingraham apologizes for taunting Parkland teen over college rejections," 29 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'galvanize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of galvanize

1802, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for galvanize

borrowed from French galvaniser, from Luigi galvani (who conducted pioneering experiments in bioelectricity) + -iser -ize

Note: See note at galvanism.

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Statistics for galvanize

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for galvanize

The first known use of galvanize was in 1802

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More Definitions for galvanize



English Language Learners Definition of galvanize

: to cause (people) to become so excited or concerned about an issue, idea, etc., that they want to do something about it

: to cause (a force that is capable of causing change) to become active

: to cover (steel or iron) with a layer of zinc to prevent it from rusting


gal·​va·​nize | \ˈgal-və-ˌnīz \
galvanized; galvanizing

Kids Definition of galvanize

1 : to excite about something so that action is taken Increasing litter galvanized children to clean up the park.

2 : to coat with zinc for protection The steel was galvanized to prevent it from rusting.


transitive verb
variants: or British galvanise \ ˈgal-​və-​ˌnīz \
galvanized or British galvanised; galvanizing or British galvanising

Medical Definition of galvanize 

: to subject to the action of an electric current especially for the purpose of stimulating physiologically galvanize a muscle

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Comments on galvanize

What made you want to look up galvanize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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