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

Other Words from autolysis

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

Examples of autolysis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web When small fish start to decay, the bacterial flora in their guts burst through cell walls, initiating the process of autolysis. Taras Grescoe, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Oct. 2021 This is because of the quick breakdown process known as autolysis, which begins almost immediately after death and involves enzymes breaking down the tissue. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 8 Jan. 2020 According to researchers, brains tend to decompose quickly after death in a rapid process of autolysis, where enzymes break up the tissue. Fox News, 12 Jan. 2020 This means that the autolysis breakdown process was prevented from the outside of the brain, essentially being deactivated. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 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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The first known use of autolysis was in 1900

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Cite this Entry

“Autolysis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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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 autolysis (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 autolysis (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on autolysis Encyclopedia article about autolysis


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