< /kəˈtæl əˌsiz/.

  1. Chemistry. the causing or accelerating of a chemical change by the addition of a catalyst.
  2. an action between two or more persons or forces, initiated by an agent that itself remains unaffected by the action: social catalyses occasioned by controversial writings.


  1. of or relating to catalysis; involving a catalyst

noun plural -ses (-ˌsiːz)

  1. acceleration of a chemical reaction by the action of a catalyst

1836, from Latinized form of Greek katalytikos “able to dissolve,” from katalyein (see catalysis).


1650s, “dissolution,” from Latinized form of Greek katalysis “dissolution, a dissolving” (of governments, military units, etc.), from katalyein “to dissolve,” from kata- “down” (or “completely”), see cata-, + lyein “to loosen” (see lose). Chemical sense “change caused by an agent which itself remains unchanged” is attested from 1836, introduced by Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius (1779-1848).

n. pl. ca•tal•y•ses (-sēz′)

  1. The action of a catalyst, especially an increase in the rate of a chemical reaction.

  1. A substance that starts or speeds up a chemical reaction while undergoing no permanent change itself. The enzymes in saliva, for example, are catalysts in digestion.

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