gal·​va·​nism | \ ˈgal-və-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce galvanism (audio) \

Definition of galvanism

1 : a direct current of electricity especially when produced by chemical action
2 : the therapeutic use of direct electric current (as for pain relief)
3 : vital or forceful activity

Examples of galvanism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Writing her imaginary story of a being jolted to life by Victor Frankenstein, Mary drew on the cutting-edge science of her time, including galvanism and electricity. The Economist, 17 Feb. 2018 Instead galvanism led to life-saving interventions—the pacemaker and the defibrillator among them. Charles Kenny, Slate Magazine, 16 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'galvanism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of galvanism

1797, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for galvanism

borrowed from French galvanisme, from Luigi galvani (who conducted pioneering experiments in bioelectricity) + -isme -ism

Note: The French words galvanisme and galvaniser were apparently introduced by Alexander von humboldt in a letter, dated January 24, 1796 ("Lettre de F. Humboldt à M. Pictet … sur lʼinfluence de lʼacide muriatique oxygené et sur lʼirritabilité de la fibre organisée, lue a lʼInstitut national"), published in the Magasin encyclopédique, ou Journal des sciences, des lettres et des arts (Lʼan quatrième [1795],) pp. 462-72. In a footnote Humboldt states "Les mots de galvanisme, galvaniser, dont je me sert, sont formés dʼaprès ceux de magnétisme, magnétiser. Ils sont recommendables pour sa briéveté." ("The words galvanism, galvanize, which I make use of, are modeled on magnetism, magnetize. They are commendable for their conciseness.")

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The first known use of galvanism was in 1797

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Cite this Entry

“Galvanism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for galvanism


gal·​va·​nism | \ ˈgal-və-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce galvanism (audio) \

Medical Definition of galvanism

1 : a direct current of electricity especially when produced by chemical action (as in a storage battery)
2 : the therapeutic use of direct electric current (as to relieve pain)

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