Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Chemistry A substance, usually used in small amounts relative to the reactants, that modifies and increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process.
  • n. One that precipitates a process or event, especially without being involved in or changed by the consequences: "A free press ... has remained ... a vital catalyst to an informed and responsible electorate” ( Robert O'Neal).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the process.
  • n. Someone or something that encourages progress or change.
  • n. A catalytic converter.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a substance that initiates or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.
  • n. something that serves as a precipitating occasion for an event.
  • n. something or someone that causes events to happen with itself being changed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In physical chemistry Same as catalytic agent (which see).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. something that causes an important event to happen
  • n. (chemistry) a substance that initiates or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected

Etymologies

From catalysis.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From catalysis +‎ -ist. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Malone had filed the word catalyst in his mental Rolodex, right beside another nagging question.

    The Shattered Blue Line

  • ‡ The term catalyst is often used to refer to the prime agent of any change: “She was the catalyst for the reorganization.

    catalyst

  • The breakthrough came in 1971 when Yves Chauvin presented new experiments and suggested that the catalyst is a carbon/metal compound in which the metal is bonded to carbon with a double bond.

    The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2005: Presentation Speech

  • Today, perhaps, the term catalyst is most often heard in connection with purification of vehicle exhausts, a process in which the metals platinum and rhodium catalyze the degradation of the contaminant nitrous oxides.

    The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1989 - Presentation Speech

  • This trial provides another key, short term catalyst for Ampio, at a time when developments are moving swiftly on multiple fronts.

  • With results due out later this year, Optina provides another key, short term catalyst for Ampio.

  • But they are part of a $1 billion annual operating expense reduction that should offer a short term catalyst for profit growth.

  • It's widely expected that AMR-101 is as close to a shoo-in as you can get in the FDA approval business, which makes longs eager to load up during the current drop in order to benefit from any future spike, but the lack of an immediate or short term catalyst - given that an acquisition looks to be off the table - has the more impatient investors eager to move on for the time being in the search for a quick mover.

  • And part of the catalyst is get yourself in trouble.

    More From Jon Stewart's 'Fresh Air' Interview

  • "Cultural catalyst" is comically grandiose, yet not inaccurate.

    A fitting headstone for Tony Wilson's grave

Comments

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  • A strain of medical marijuana said to relieve symptoms of PMS.

    January 15, 2010