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

That has galvanized liberal and conservative advocacy groups, who began mobilizing even before the nomination was announced and expect to spend tens of millions through the summer and into the fall. New York Times, "Senate Democrats Come Out Swinging in Long-Shot Fight to Block Kavanaugh," 10 July 2018 Such predictions have galvanized the Zero Waste movement, which a Northern California resident named Bea Johnson is often credited with founding in 2008. Victoria Adams Fogg, Washington Post, "She cut her weekly trash down so much it fits in an unbelievably small jar," 7 July 2018 Harvey’s ordeal has galvanized Central Florida’s community of umpires, who rallied around a friend in need. Stephen Ruiz,, "Umpires rally around Sanford peer after infection costs him his legs," 6 July 2018 Though still early in the campaign season, the measure already has galvanized high-powered energy-industry opposition. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "Fight heats up over Washington state carbon ‘fee’ likely to make fall ballot," 2 July 2018 The looming confirmation battle over Kennedy's replacement already has galvanized Republican and Democratic activists. Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY, "Conservatives say the looming Supreme Court battle boosts their midterm prospects," 27 June 2018 The possibility that an officer could be fired for shooting someone who carried a bat has galvanized the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. Dan Hinkel,, "Trial begins Monday in lawsuit over 2015 fatal police shooting of bat-wielding teen, neighbor," 18 June 2018 On the bright side, the tech industry itself has galvanized an egalitarian awakening as toxic brogrammer culture gives way to leaning in and #MeToo empathy. Richard Morgan, Fortune, "Meet Ro Khanna, Silicon Valley's Man in the Middle," 29 May 2018 His antiestablishment message has galvanized youth voters upset over corruption and income inequality. Christine Armario And Joshua Goodman,, "Conservative tops Colombia presidential vote but runoff needed," 28 May 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

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

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a magnificent or impressive array

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