chro·​ma·​tol·​y·​sis ˌkrō-mə-ˈtä-lə-səs How to pronounce chromatolysis (audio)
: the dissolution and breaking up of chromophil material (such as chromatin) of a cell and especially a nerve cell
chromatolytic adjective

Word History


borrowed from French chromatolyse, from chromato- chromato- + -lyse -lysis

Note: Term introduced by the Romanian neurologist Georges Marinesco (Gheorghe Marinescu, 1863-1938), probably first in "Des polynévrites en rapport avec les lésions secondaires et les lésions primitives des cellules nerveuses," Revue neurologique, tome 4 (1896), p. 133.

First Known Use

1901, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chromatolysis was in 1901

Dictionary Entries Near chromatolysis

Cite this Entry

“Chromatolysis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


chro·​ma·​tol·​y·​sis ˌkrō-mə-ˈtäl-ə-səs How to pronounce chromatolysis (audio)
plural chromatolyses -ˌsēz How to pronounce chromatolysis (audio)
: the dispersal of Nissl substance in the cell body of a neuron resulting from axonal stress (as that induced by injury or neurodegenerative disease)
chromatolytic adjective
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