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

Taking part in a rebranding — about 20 Connecticut High Schools have names that warrant the process – would actually be a galvanizing event. Mike Anthony, courant.com, "Mike Anthony: No reason not to change high school nicknames that are offensive or derogatory," 16 June 2019 Opioid use goes from all to nothing The 2016 CDC guidelines galvanized response in a health care community that had already been grappling with its role in the drug crisis. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Did the crackdown on opioid prescriptions go too far? Here's why doctors are reconsidering," 10 June 2019 And just as galvanizing as her head-to-toe look was her rousing acceptance speech. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Janelle Monáe Steps Out With a Next-Level Braid at the Billboard Women of the Year Event," 7 Dec. 2018 Thanks to Councilmember Paul Koretz and Marc Ching from Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation for partnering in this effort and helping galvanize so many voices. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "Los Angeles Will Be the Largest City to Completely Ban Fur," 18 Sep. 2018 The momentum building locally may galvanize those organizing in other parts of the country, said Wilma Liebman, a former chair of the NLRB under President Obama and now a law professor at New York University. Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, OregonLive.com, "Portland Burgerville workers approve federally recognized union," 23 Apr. 2018 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

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

22 Jun 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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