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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from catabolism

catabolic \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈbä-​lik How to pronounce catabolic (audio) \ adjective
catabolically \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈbä-​li-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce catabolically (audio) \ adverb

Examples of catabolism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Dantas now sees antibiotic catabolism as just another part of this bigger survival game. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "Bacteria That Eat Drugs Could Help Solve the Antibiotic Resistance Crisis," 8 Nov. 2018 Regardless of an organism’s energy source, its metabolism is a balance of catabolism, breaking energy down into usable units, and anabolism, using those units for vital building projects such as bone growth. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Metabolism," 6 Feb. 2017

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

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

likely to have or produce good results

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!