au·​tol·​y·​sis | \ ȯ-ˈtä-lə-səs How to pronounce autolysis (audio) \

Definition of autolysis

: breakdown of all or part of a cell or tissue by self-produced enzymes

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Other Words from autolysis

autolytic \ ˌȯ-​tə-​ˈli-​tik How to pronounce autolytic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of autolysis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web According to researchers, brains tend to decompose quickly after death in a rapid process of autolysis, where enzymes break up the tissue. Fox News, "'Heslington brain' resisted rotting for 2,600 years — now scientists know why," 12 Jan. 2020 This means that the autolysis breakdown process was prevented from the outside of the brain, essentially being deactivated. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Secrets of an astonishingly well-preserved 2,600-year-old human brain," 8 Jan. 2020

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

First Known Use of autolysis

1900, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for autolysis

New Latin

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Time Traveler for autolysis

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The first known use of autolysis was in 1900

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Statistics for autolysis

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Autolysis.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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More Definitions for autolysis


au·​tol·​y·​sis | \ -ə-səs How to pronounce autolysis (audio) \
plural autolyses\ -​ə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce autolyses (audio) \

Medical Definition of autolysis

: breakdown of all or part of a cell or tissue by self-produced enzymes

called also self-digestion

Other Words from autolysis

autolytic \ ˌȯt-​ᵊl-​ˈit-​ik How to pronounce autolytic (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on autolysis Encyclopedia article about autolysis

Comments on autolysis

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


to insert between existing elements

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