from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The chemical processes occurring within a living cell or organism that are necessary for the maintenance of life. In metabolism some substances are broken down to yield energy for vital processes while other substances, necessary for life, are synthesized.
  • noun The processing of a specific substance within a living cell or organism.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In theology, the consensus of views of some of the early fathers in regard to the eucharist, favoring an objective union of the sensible with the supersensible, or the real with the symbolical presence.
  • noun In poetry, a change from one meter into another.
  • noun In entomology, metamorphosis; transformation; metaboly; transition from larva to pupa, or from pupa to imago.
  • noun In biology: The sum of the chemical changes within the body, or within any single cell of the body, by which the protoplasm is either renewed or changed to perform special functions, or else disorganized and prepared for excretion.
  • noun Especially, retrograde metamorphosis; catabolism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Physiol.) The act or process, by which living tissues or cells take up and convert into their own proper substance the nutritive material brought to them by the blood, or by which they transform their cell protoplasm into simpler substances, which are fitted either for excretion or for some special purpose, as in the manufacture of the digestive enzymes. Hence, metabolism may be either constructive (anabolism), or destructive (catabolism).
  • noun (Biol.) The series of chemical changes which take place in an organism, by means of which food is manufactured and utilized and waste materials are eliminated.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun physiology The complete set of chemical reactions that occur in living cells.

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

  • noun the organic processes (in a cell or organism) that are necessary for life
  • noun the marked and rapid transformation of a larva into an adult that occurs in some animals


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

[From Greek metabolē, change, from metaballein, to change : meta-, meta- + ballein, to throw; see gwelə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek μεταβολή (metabolē, "change"), from μετά ("meta-") + βάλλω (ballō, "I throw").


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  • The human body is subject to metabolism.

    March 14, 2007

  • "He parked where the fire road turned off. Already the ground frost was so thick he could feel the cold through the soles of his shoes. The girl must have a different metabolism from him; in her thin sweater she seemed to be carrying summer around with her."

    - 'The Quiet Girl', Peter Høeg.

    March 18, 2008