Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


English Wikipedia has an article on:


From catalysis +‎ -ist.




catalyst (plural catalysts)

  1. (chemistry) A substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the process.
    • 1988, Lubert Stryer Biochemistry, 3rd edition, page 177
      Enzymes, the catalysts of biological systems, are remarkable molecular devices that determine the pattern of chemical transformations.
  2. Something that encourages progress or change.
    Economic development and integration are working as a catalyst for peace.
    • 1978, Ernest George Schwiebert, Trout, volume 2:
      It was a morning baptized by my first cup of coffee, freshly brewed over a gravel-bar fire, while they celebrated with the stronger catalyst of sour-mash whiskey in their fishing-vest cups.
    • 2004, Michael B. Oren, Six Days of War: June 1967 and the making of the modern Middle East, page 76:
      Israel's fear for the reactor—rather than Egypt's of it—was the greater catalyst for war.
    • 2006, The Freedom Writers, with Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them, Diary 74
      Rosa Parks was a true catalyst for change and she was only one person. Hearing about Rosa Parks and her protest showed me that there is hope for me and all the students in Ms. G's classes to truly be catalysts for change.
    • 2014 August 8, Rupert Christiansen, “The truth about falsettos [print version: 12 August 2014, p. R8]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review)[1]:
      He [countertenor Anthony Roth Constanzo] also enjoys being the catalyst whereby opera fertilises other art forms: recently, he's collaborated with Japanese kabuki actors, and a project with dancers from New York City Ballet is in the offing.
    • 2022 January 26, John Crosse, “When the tide turned to a safer railway...”, in RAIL, number 949, page 53:
      The catalyst was the introduction of the Health & Safety at Work Act in 1974. While it applied to all workplaces, it gradually brought about a sea change in the attitude towards death and injury. Accidents were no longer accepted as 'inevitable'.
  3. (literature) An inciting incident that sets the successive conflict into motion.
  4. (automotive) A catalytic converter.
  5. (fantasy) An object that facilitates the casting of a spell (such as a magic wand).



  • (something that encourages change): inhibitor
  • (something that enhances or accelerates): dampener

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]