catalyst

noun
cat·​a·​lyst | \ˈka-tə-ləst \

Definition of catalyst 

1 : a substance that enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a usually faster rate or under different conditions (as at a lower temperature) than otherwise possible

2 : an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action That waterway became the catalyst of the area's industrialization. He was the catalyst in the native uprising.

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Word History of Catalyst

Catalyst is a fairly recent addition to the English language, first appearing at the start of the 20th century with its chemistry meaning. It was formed from the word catalysis, another chemistry term which refers to a modification and especially an increase in the rate of a chemical reaction induced by material unchanged chemically at the end of the reaction. By the 1940s, the figurative sense of catalyst was in use for someone or something that quickly causes change or action.

Examples of catalyst in a Sentence

The bombing attack was the catalyst for war. She was proud to be a catalyst for reform in the government.

Recent Examples on the Web

Tyler’s attention-grabbing Grammy kicks would serve as the catalyst for a new, more full-fledged collaboration. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Meet the Young Artist Behind Tyler, the Creator’s Doodle-Covered Chucks," 20 Nov. 2018 The Panthers have run for at least 121 yards in seven of eight games, with Newton serving as the catalyst. Will Graves, The Seattle Times, "Surging Newton, Panthers face red-hot Steelers," 7 Nov. 2018 This incident eventually served as a catalyst for the mobilization of thousands of Mexican-American families who came together to challenge segregation in four Orange County school districts. Mariana Viera, Teen Vogue, "How Méndez vs. Westminster Helped End Segregated Schools for Latinx Children in 1940s California," 12 Oct. 2018 Dubi defines that as helping cities host events on a national or international stage in the future: Can the Olympics help create a space for repeat events, or, like Sochi, which hosted the 2014 Winter Games, be used as a catalyst for tourism? Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Olympics try more city-friendly bid process: Will it work?," 8 Oct. 2018 Threat Extinguisher pointed to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and Planned Parenthood in Colorado in 2015 as the catalyst for the creation of the pepper spray. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "'Tactical-grade' pepper spray to be installed by Ohio school district as defense against active shooters," 16 July 2018 Llano sees technology as another catalyst for learning. Rachel K. Hindery, chicagotribune.com, "'The vision and drive': New principal set to begin at Pietrini Elementary in Franklin Park," 18 June 2018 Here, chaotic city life is a distant memory and the deliberate and un-rushed pace is the catalyst for achieving a state of repose. 5. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Hotels in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 2018 The anode, covered with a catalyst, splits water molecules into O2, hydrogen ions, and electrons. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "Ammonia—a renewable fuel made from sun, air, and water—could power the globe without carbon," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catalyst.' 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 catalyst

1902, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for catalyst

see catalysis

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Statistics for catalyst

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for catalyst

The first known use of catalyst was in 1902

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More Definitions for catalyst

catalyst

noun

Financial Definition of catalyst

What It Is

A catalyst is news or information that changes a pricing trend in a security.

How It Works

Let's assume that Company XYZ announces earnings that far exceed analysts' expectations. This information could serve as a catalyst that kick-starts trading in the stock and changes its perception from a "dog" to a "star" among investors.

Catalysts can drive an investment up or down. A favorable event can push a stock to new heights, but if events turn sour, the exit for these shares can be very narrow and very crowded.

Let's take the example of a classic investment catalyst: adverse press publicity. A fundamentally strong company can get unfairly beaten up by the press and by analysts, driving down its stock price to unjustified lows. In this case, the catalyst would signal a great opportunity for investors to buy, not sell.

Why It Matters

Catalysts can change the perception of a security. They can be almost anything: earnings releases, favorable or unfavorable economic reports, management changes, new products, product recalls, successful (or unsuccessful) marketing campaigns, lawsuits, etc.

Quite often, catalysts are the news or events that finally call attention to fundamentals or other intrinsic factors that have existed for some time in a security. When investors can identify what events or information will be catalysts for a particular security, they essentially are able to predict which way the security will go if and when the information becomes public knowledge.

However, catalysts must be considered within the context of investment strategy. Investors buy when they anticipate the market will rise; they sell when they anticipate the market will fall. Catalysts are only one factor in the equation.

Source: Investing Answers

catalyst

noun

English Language Learners Definition of catalyst

: a substance that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly

: a person or event that quickly causes change or action

catalyst

noun
cat·​a·​lyst | \ˈkat-ᵊl-əst \

Medical Definition of catalyst 

: a substance (as an enzyme) that enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a usually faster rate or under different conditions (as at a lower temperature) than otherwise possible

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More from Merriam-Webster on catalyst

Spanish Central: Translation of catalyst

Nglish: Translation of catalyst for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of catalyst for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about catalyst

Comments on catalyst

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