galvanize

verb
gal·​va·​nize | \ ˈgal-və-ˌnīz How to pronounce galvanize (audio) \
galvanized; galvanizing

Definition of galvanize

transitive verb

1a : to subject to the action of an electric current especially for the purpose of stimulating physiologically galvanize a muscle
b : to stimulate or excite as if by an electric shock an issue that would galvanize public opinion
2 : to coat (iron or steel) with zinc especially : to immerse in molten zinc to produce a coating of zinc-iron alloy

intransitive verb

: to react as if stimulated by an electric shock they galvanized into action

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Other Words from galvanize

galvanization \ ˌgal-​və-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce galvanization (audio) \ noun
galvanizer \ ˈgal-​və-​ˌnī-​zər How to pronounce galvanizer (audio) \ noun

The Scientific Origins of Galvanize

Luigi Galvani was an Italian physician and physicist who, in the 1770s, studied the electrical nature of nerve impulses by applying electrical stimulation to frogs' leg muscles, causing them to contract. Although Galvani's theory that animal tissue contained an innate electrical impulse was disproven, the Italian word galvanismo came to describe a current of electricity especially when produced by chemical action. English speakers borrowed the word as galvanism around 1797; the verb galvanize appeared a few years later, in the early 19th century. Charlotte Brontë used the verb figuratively in her 1853 novel Villette: "Her approach always galvanized him to new and spasmodic life." These days, galvanize also means to cover metal with zinc or a zinc alloy to protect it from rust (as in galvanized carpentry nails).

Examples of galvanize in a Sentence

The group is hoping to galvanize public opinion against the proposed law. The Web site has galvanized support for the project. a factory where steel is galvanized
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Recent Examples on the Web

O’Rourke, who came close to conquering Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterms and seemed to galvanize millennial voters in ways reminiscent of Barack Obama, entered the presidential race with great fanfare. NBC News, "Where in the world is Beto O’Rourke?," 31 July 2019 Despite these issues, galvanized Burbank parents and seniors rejected the idea of a graduation at Memorial Field. Andrew J. Campa, Burbank Leader, "Burbank High School seniors will need to pay again to keep graduations on campus," 16 July 2019 Julián Castro, the only Latino on the stage, mostly stuck to English, though his focus on immigration seemed intended to galvanize Hispanic voters. Ana Campoy, Quartz, "Democratic presidential candidates duel in Spanish, some better than others," 26 June 2019 Anti-immigrant measures in both states galvanized entire communities to become new Democratic voters. Dallas News, "How immigration battles are firing up Latinos and putting Texas, battleground states in play for the presidential election," 23 June 2019 But this time, the fire galvanized the nation and helped launch the environmental movements that cleaned up the Cuyahoga and countless other waterways across America. CBS News, "From fire to fishing: The 50-year transformation of the Cuyahoga River," 22 June 2019 The violence galvanized federal action, inspiring passage of the Voting Rights Act in August 1965. al.com, "Podcast ‘White Lies’ finds fourth attacker in unsolved Selma murder case," 18 June 2019 Rather than galvanizing public opinion and the questions of impeachment, Mueller’s reluctant appearance may become just another chapter in the Trump era that won’t be closed until the 2020 election. Mary Clare Jalonick, The Denver Post, "Mueller’s testimony poses risk for Trump, but also Democrats," 20 July 2019 But the case of Sal DiMasi, the former House speaker who battled cancer while serving a federal prison sentence for political corruption, galvanized support. Gal Tziperman Lotan, BostonGlobe.com, "In first year of medical parole, just four inmates granted reprieve," 15 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'galvanize.' 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 galvanize

1802, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for galvanize

borrowed from French galvaniser, from Luigi galvani (who conducted pioneering experiments in bioelectricity) + -iser -ize

Note: See note at galvanism.

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Statistics for galvanize

Last Updated

17 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for galvanize

The first known use of galvanize was in 1802

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More Definitions for galvanize

galvanize

verb

English Language Learners Definition of galvanize

: to cause (people) to become so excited or concerned about an issue, idea, etc., that they want to do something about it
: to cause (a force that is capable of causing change) to become active
technical : to cover (steel or iron) with a layer of zinc to prevent it from rusting

galvanize

verb
gal·​va·​nize | \ ˈgal-və-ˌnīz How to pronounce galvanize (audio) \
galvanized; galvanizing

Kids Definition of galvanize

1 : to excite about something so that action is taken Increasing litter galvanized children to clean up the park.
2 : to coat with zinc for protection The steel was galvanized to prevent it from rusting.

galvanize

transitive verb
gal·​va·​nize
variants: or British galvanise \ ˈgal-​və-​ˌnīz How to pronounce galvanise (audio) \
galvanized or British galvanised; galvanizing or British galvanising

Medical Definition of galvanize

: to subject to the action of an electric current especially for the purpose of stimulating physiologically galvanize a muscle

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