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

To explain how the clause would apply to FEC reports, the brief provides a hypothetical scenario: A member of Congress up for reelection wants to galvanize a certain voter base, so the lawmaker proposes legislation the base likes. Morgan Cook, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Rep. Duncan Hunter argues his campaign filings are immune from prosecution," 6 Sep. 2019 And the school implemented measures to galvanize support. Rainer Sabin |, al, "Alabama set to release ticket app to encourage commitment from student fans," 21 Aug. 2019 The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements are said to have galvanized a new awareness of Hollywood’s gender disparities and an urgency to change the culture. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "How Marc Maron mansplained Hollywood sexism to Geena Davis," 9 Aug. 2019 Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin coach John Greksa said the World Cup success by the U.S. Women's Soccer Team will continue to galvanize the sport for young girls. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Will U.S. Women's World Cup title impact Arizona high school soccer?," 9 July 2019 Countless people gathered outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which many attribute to galvanizing the gay rights movement. Sarah Midkiff,, "Lady Gaga Honored Stonewall’s 50th Anniversary With A Surprise Empowering Speech," 30 June 2019 The deadly response from the city’s authorities in what is called the Peterloo Massacre, or the battle of Peterloo, galvanized the radical movement, outraged the British public, and embarrassed the government. Christopher J. Scalia, National Review, "From England in 1819 to Hong Kong in 2019," 16 Aug. 2019 In the end, that message galvanized their constituents., "How Oregon’s climate-change bill ran out of gas," 30 June 2019 And her Kavanaugh support could galvanize Republicans around her too. NBC News, "Maine Democratic House speaker to run against Susan Collins," 25 June 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

14 Sep 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



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


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.


transitive verb
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

What made you want to look up galvanize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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