Definition of catalyst in English:



  • 1A substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.

    • ‘Some germanium is also used to make semiconductors, catalysts, and specialized glass for military weapon-sighting systems.’
    • ‘Ionic liquids usefully form one of the phases because they don't mix with many organic solvents, but readily dissolve metals used as catalysts.’
    • ‘In fact, zeolites are the main catalysts in petrochemical refineries today.’
    • ‘All of the platinum-group metals are good catalysts: they speed up the rate of certain chemical reactions.’
    • ‘Most converters use platinum or palladium metal catalysts that convert carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water vapor.’
    • ‘Chemicals in the catalytic converter act as catalysts, changing the highly hazardous gas compounds to less harmful ones.’
    • ‘He attempted to polymerize ethylene using catalysts at a much lower pressure than that used by the British process.’
    • ‘Heterogeneous catalysts are materials that increase the rate of a reaction, but are not in the same phase as the reactants.’
    • ‘The one exception is that it is sometimes used as a catalyst in the petroleum industry.’
    • ‘Catalyst recovery is one of the most actively researched areas for cost-cutting in the chemical industry, as catalysts often contain rare and expensive metals.’
    • ‘The element is also used to make dyes, photographic film, specialized soaps, and catalysts.’
    • ‘Silicone surfactants, and amine and tin catalysts, are also used.’
    • ‘When temperature is increased, synthetic catalysts can become just as active as enzymes.’
    • ‘Enzymes are the biological substance that act as catalysts and help complex reactions occur everywhere in life.’
    • ‘Many alkyl halides, alcohols, or alkenes can be reacted with benzene in the presence of certain catalysts to give an alkyl benzene.’
    • ‘Instead, we started to look further afield at copper-based catalysts that had been rejected during the initial ester hydrogenation testwork.’
    • ‘These versatile molecules function as catalysts in the hydrogen peroxide bleaching process.’
    • ‘Finally, a relatively small amount of rhenium is used to make catalysts for the petroleum industry.’
    • ‘The key tools will be new breeds of enzymes - protein catalysts that speed up chemical reactions in cells.’
    • ‘Solid oxide catalysts are commonly used for chemical and refinery operations.’
    channel, medium, means, means of expression, agency, agent, instrument, mechanism, organ, apparatus, structure, machine, machinery
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A person or thing that precipitates an event.
      ‘the governor's speech acted as a catalyst for debate’
      • ‘Public opinion polls often serve as catalysts for such debates.’
      • ‘The beach becomes the catalyst which encourages them to break society's rules.’
      • ‘There are many events however that serve as catalysts for the big historic shifts.’
      • ‘More importantly, it was about inspired individuals being the catalysts of effecting new possibilities.’
      • ‘In Scotland, it has always been Catholic schools which have been the catalyst for this debate.’
      • ‘It is amazing what acts as a catalyst to spur people on to do something about a situation.’
      • ‘It will hopefully act as a catalyst for more formal public education in the future.’
      • ‘The film's other characters are secondary, and often serve little purpose beyond acting as catalysts.’
      • ‘Events, individuals, circumstances and situations are catalysts for transformations in culture.’
      • ‘Though the film is around these two men, it is the women who play the catalyst to all the events and add momentum to the story.’
      • ‘This is the catalyst for a chain of events which threatens to destabilise the parliament.’
      • ‘I hope that it will be a catalyst for an ongoing debate and discussion in our field.’
      • ‘All three shocks have caused, or been a catalyst for, a serious downturn in western economies.’
      • ‘If there is any catalyst to get the team motivated for next season it will be this performance in the nationals.’
      • ‘It is the union of the latter two that provides the catalyst for the events that follow.’
      • ‘Historical and meaningful events such as this often act as a catalyst for change.’
      • ‘On the second issue, the crisis also served as a catalyst to the birth of a more responsible and braver press.’
      • ‘The event was to be used as a catalyst for change and to bring new hope to residents in rundown areas of the city.’
      • ‘The Parliamentary debate on this report was the actual catalyst which prompted the minister to resign.’
      • ‘The primary catalysts that induced this growth were the end-user industries, communications, and computers, in particular.’
      stimulus, stimulation, motivation, motivating force, fillip, encouragement, influence, muse, goad, spur, lift, boost, incentive, incitement, impulse, catalyst
      View synonyms


Early 20th century: from catalysis, on the pattern of analyst.