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

But the campaign is still a long way from the $200 million Jones says the school needs, and celebrity shoutouts often galvanize only fleeting support. Abigail Jones, Newsweek, "The End of Sweet Briar College and the Problem With Women's Colleges," 29 Apr. 2015 That attack galvanized a country where widespread violence against women had long been quietly accepted. Fox News, "Indian police hunt 3 suspects after girl is drugged, raped," 15 Sep. 2018 The case galvanized the civil rights movement, and even today, Till’s death has been invoked by protesters decrying brutality against African Americans. Jenny Jarvie, latimes.com, "Justice Department reopens Emmett Till case. His killing in 1955 put a spotlight on racial violence," 12 July 2018 Some political analysts say Trump’s remarks may actually help Tester by galvanizing Democrats to turn out for a non-presidential election when turnout is typically lower. Washington Post, "Rosendale wins Montana GOP Senate primary, to face Tester," 7 June 2018 But Democratic leaders fear that building a message around impeachment could backfire by galvanizing Trump’s loyal supporters. Liz Goodwin, BostonGlobe.com, "Democrats struggle to forge unifying midterm message," 26 May 2018 The next interruption came from husband-and-wife duo Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis, who galvanized the guests into playing an interactive game of heads or tails. A-LIST, "Social Light: Inside The Old Vic Theatre’s Bicentenary Gala," 15 May 2018 The pursuit takes several unexpected turns in the body count department — and galvanizes Brea into impressive take-charge action. Gary Goldstein, latimes.com, "Paula Patton stars in the surprisingly effective thriller 'Traffik'," 20 Apr. 2018 Each character’s reactions to the murders, as well as how the invasion of violence galvanizes the neighborhood, provides for a solid plot. Oline H. Cogdill, Philly.com, "'Other Side of Everything': Generations, a neighborhood on the skids, and festering hatreds," 26 Mar. 2018

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

8 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on galvanize

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