metabolism

noun
me·​tab·​o·​lism | \mə-ˈta-bə-ˌli-zəm \

Definition of metabolism 

1a : the sum of the processes in the buildup and destruction of protoplasm specifically : the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities and new material is assimilated (see assimilate entry 1 sense 1b) Regular exercise can help to increase your metabolism.

b : the sum of the processes by which a particular substance is handled in the living body

c : the sum of the metabolic activities taking place in a particular environment the metabolism of a lake

2 : metamorphosis sense 2 usually used in combination holometabolism

Examples of metabolism in a Sentence

studying the metabolisms of various organisms

Recent Examples on the Web

Mussels open and close their shells a small amount as part of their normal metabolism. Angela Chen, The Verge, "How slime molds and mussels could be the future of architecture," 27 Nov. 2018 The researchers next measured the levels of various products of glucose metabolism and concluded that mannose inhibits key enzymes involved in essential metabolic pathways, all of which rely on glucose. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Sugar cures cancer! (Not really, but one sugar may help chemo)," 21 Nov. 2018 Archaea are also extraordinary in their ability to produce methane as a result of their metabolism—another trait that helps them tolerate environs lethal to other critters. David P. Barash, WSJ, "‘The Tangled Tree’ Review: From Tiny Seeds," 9 Aug. 2018 Overall, the results suggest that metabolism was not likely a factor in their extinction. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Why Did Most Massive Bony Fish Behemoths Die Out?," 4 June 2018 This is why alcohol takes highest priority in the process of metabolism. Kimberly Mugler, Philly.com, "Dos and donts of drinking alcohol on paleo, keto diets," 26 May 2018 My metabolism is so crazy that all of that will be gone by the first ten minutes of my workout, anyway. Luke Darby, GQ, "The Real-Life Diet of Brandon Ingram, the NBA's Most Talented Beanpole," 15 Jan. 2018 What's more clear-cut though is the fact that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, says Rita Kalyani, M.D., associate professor of medicine and physician of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at Johns Hopkins University. Colleen Stinchcombe, Woman's Day, "What's the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?," 10 Sep. 2018 Maintaining weight loss depends so much on situational context, on changing metabolism, on age and lifestyle. Sarah Weinman, The Cut, "Did Drinking Give Me Breast Cancer? I Don’t Know.," 18 Apr. 2018

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

1878, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for metabolism

International Scientific Vocabulary, from Greek metabolē change, from metaballein to change, from meta- + ballein to throw — more at devil

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Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for metabolism

The first known use of metabolism was in 1878

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More Definitions for metabolism

metabolism

noun

English Language Learners Definition of metabolism

biology : the chemical processes by which a plant or an animal uses food, water, etc., to grow and heal and to make energy

metabolism

noun
me·​tab·​o·​lism | \mə-ˈta-bə-ˌli-zəm \

Kids Definition of metabolism

: the processes by which a living organism uses food to obtain energy and build tissue and disposes of waste material

metabolism

noun
me·​tab·​o·​lism | \mə-ˈtab-ə-ˌliz-əm \

Medical Definition of metabolism 

1a : the sum of the processes in the buildup and destruction of protoplasm specifically : the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities and new material is assimilated methods of determining body and tissue metabolism Bulletin of the University of Kentucky — see anabolism, catabolism

b : the sum of the processes by which a particular substance is handled (as by assimilation and incorporation or by detoxification and excretion) in the living body the metabolism of iodine in the thyroid

2 : metamorphosis sense 2 usually used in combination holometabolism

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More from Merriam-Webster on metabolism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with metabolism

Spanish Central: Translation of metabolism

Nglish: Translation of metabolism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of metabolism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about metabolism

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