catalyst

noun
cat·​a·​lyst | \ ˈka-tə-ləst How to pronounce catalyst (audio) \

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

In an interview with Fortune on Thursday, CIRP co-founder Michael Levin said that Prime Day has historically been a catalyst for people to sign up for Amazon Prime. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Amazon Prime Subscription Growth Slows Ahead of Prime Day 2019," 11 July 2019 The second half of the year will involve a few catalysts for Canadian pot companies, including the addition of up to 50 more stores in Ontario and the legalization of edibles and vapes. Kristine Owram, BostonGlobe.com, "Pot investors brace for writedowns, not profits, in second half," 11 July 2019 The plays were catalysts for the Bears’ turnaround from a 5-11 record in 2000 to a 13-3 mark and their first playoff appearance since 1994. Will Larkin, chicagotribune.com, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 58, Mike Brown," 9 July 2019 Along with a mix of vegetable proteins and fats, the heme is the catalyst that helps produce all the flavor and aroma. CBS News, "Where's the beef? Hamburger patties made from plants," 7 July 2019 Schrier demonstrated the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, a reaction that occurs when hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with a catalyst like potassium iodide, which Schrier used in her presentation. Aj Willingham, CNN, "The newly-crowned Miss Virginia did a science experiment for her talent performance," 3 July 2019 That acid, in turn, reacts on a copper catalyst coating the negative electrode, or cathode, to create CO. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "This former playwright aims to turn solar and wind power into gasoline," 3 July 2019 Battling supernatural forces turns out to be the perfect catalyst for various adolescent rites of passage. Judy Berman, Time, "Season 3 of Stranger Things Proves It Isn't Really a TV Show Anymore—It's a Franchise," 30 June 2019 Traffic and severe thunderstorms were likely catalysts as the bridge collapsed on the eve of Italy's chief summer holiday, Ferragosto. Fox News, "Ruins of bridge in Italy demolished nearly a year after deadly collapse," 28 June 2019

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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Learn More about catalyst

Statistics for catalyst

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

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

technical : 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 How to pronounce catalyst (audio) \

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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Comments on catalyst

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