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.
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 of catalyst from the Web
This could be a catalyst for making this happen better and faster.
The catalyst for all this work is the Chehalis Foundation, a private nonprofit that raises money for the local schools.
Cvijanovic's claims of mistreatment by Beckman and his staff in 2015 served as a catalyst for an investigation that ultimately led to the Beckman's firing and to athletic director Mike Thomas' departure from the university.
Even now, the markets’ lackluster response to the news Wednesday -- the Canadian dollar fell -- underscore worries the country will struggle to find a new catalyst, especially once interest rates begin to rise from historical lows.
Should the U.S. leave, however, the moral outrage of these constituents could be a powerful catalyst for change.
This trip was likely the catalyst for the FBI’s request for a secret surveillance warrant to track Page‘s communications (WP, May 25, 2017).
Grant said rallies and protests can serve as a catalyst for community organizing.
Depending on the exact catalyst used, tension, fuel consumption, or light absorption rates would vary.
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.
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.
CATALYST Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of catalyst for English Language Learners
: a substance that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly
: a person or event that quickly causes change or action
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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