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1876, katabolism, "destructive metabolism," from Greek katabole "a throwing down" (also "a foundation"), from kataballein "to throw down," from kata- "down" (see cata-) + ballein "to throw" (see ballistics). Barnhart says probably formed in English on the model of metabolism. Spelling Latinized from 1889.
catabolism ca·tab·o·lism (kə-tāb'ə-lĭz'əm)
The metabolic breakdown of complex molecules into simpler ones, often resulting in a release of energy.
The phase of metabolism in which energy, in the form of ATP, is produced by the breakdown of complex molecules, such as starches, proteins and fats, into simpler ones. Compare anabolism.
the sequences of enzyme-catalyzed reactions by which relatively large molecules in living cells are broken down, or degraded. Part of the chemical energy released during catabolic processes is conserved in the form of energy-rich compounds (e.g., adenosine triphosphate [ATP]).