catalyst

play
noun cat·a·lyst \ˈka-tə-ləst\

Definition of catalyst

  1. 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. 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

  1. The bombing attack was the catalyst for war.

  2. She was proud to be a catalyst for reform in the government.

Recent Examples of catalyst from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of catalyst

see catalysis

Other Chemical Engineering Terms


CATALYST Defined for English Language Learners

catalyst

play
noun

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 Dictionary

catalyst

play
noun cat·a·lyst \ˈkat-əl-əst\

Medical Definition of catalyst

  1. :  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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