catabolism

noun
ca·​tab·​o·​lism | \ kə-ˈta-bə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce catabolism (audio) \

Definition of catabolism

: degradative metabolism involving the release of energy and resulting in the breakdown of complex materials (such as proteins or lipids) within the organism — compare anabolism

First Known Use of catabolism

1876, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for catabolism

earlier katabolism, from kata- cata- + (meta)bolism

Note: The term was promulgated, if not initiated, by the British physiologist Walter Holbrook Gaskell (1847-1914) in the article "On the structure, distribution and function of the nerves which innervate the visceral and vascular systems," Journal of Physiology, vol. 7, issue 1 (January, 1886), p. 46: "When a tissue such as a muscle is said to be at rest we know that in reality a continual interchange of material or metabolism is all the time taking place, the condition of equilibrium which we denote by the term rest being brought about by the counterbalancing of the two opposite processes of constructive and destructive metabolism, or as Hering has called them of assimilation and dissimilation. In other words metabolism includes the two opposite processes of destruction and construction, or as they may be called of katabolism and anabolism…We can therefore with justice speak of the motor nerve of a muscle as the katabolic nerve of that tissue…."

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about catabolism

Statistics for catabolism

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for catabolism

The first known use of catabolism was in 1876

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for catabolism

catabolism

noun
ca·​tab·​o·​lism
variants: also katabolism \ kə-​ˈtab-​ə-​ˌliz-​əm How to pronounce katabolism (audio) \

Medical Definition of catabolism

: destructive metabolism involving the release of energy and resulting in the breakdown of complex materials within the organism — compare anabolism

More from Merriam-Webster on catabolism

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about catabolism

Comments on catabolism

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a wrong name or inappropriate designation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!