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

Nermien Riad, executive director of the nonprofit Coptic Orphans, tells me the attack was a catalyst. Marlo Safi, WSJ, "Is Sisi Good for Egypt’s Christians?," 10 Jan. 2019 But taken as a whole, these moments indicate that NFL owners had a strong desire to see an end to the player protests being used as a political weapon, and that appeasing Trump was a catalyst for that desire. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Colin Kaepernick’s collusion grievance against the NFL, explained," 6 Sep. 2018 The museum, Transformer Station, has been a catalyst for dynamic change in a once-seedy neighborhood on the West Side of Cleveland, and was one inspiration for the triennial. New York Times, "New Triennial Offers Artists the Canvas of Cleveland," 11 July 2018 Loop Industries discovered a unique catalyst that breaks down PET plastic with zero heat and zero pressure. National Geographic, "Evian and Loop Industries: Starting a Revolution in Plastic Recycling," 13 June 2018 Miller hopes that Batista's prompt actions will be a catalyst for national change, as the public demands rogue officers be held accountable and an end to police brutality. Nathan J. Fish, azcentral, "Pastor Andre Miller to hold Sunday sermon on police brutality after," 9 June 2018 My goal is to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will be a catalyst for more employment opportunities for our residents. Scott Maxwell, OrlandoSentinel.com, "15 questions for the candidates for Orange County mayor. Where do they stand?," 24 May 2018 For a lot of us—like Lee Hutchinson and myself—the switch to Intel was the catalyst for our fully buying into the Mac ecosystem. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Our favorite (and least favorite) tech of 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 That means Daniels’s individual case—who signed what; who defamed whom—could be a catalyst of historic proportions. Amy Chozick, Vogue, "Stormy Daniels Isn’t Backing Down," 28 Aug. 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

15 Jan 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

: 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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