Physical Chemistry.
Also called electrolytic conductor. a conducting medium in which the flow of current is accompanied by the movement of matter in the form of ions.
any substance that dissociates into ions when dissolved in a suitable medium or melted and thus forms a conductor of electricity.
Physiology. any of certain inorganic compounds, mainly sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, and bicarbonate, that dissociate in biological fluids into ions capable of conducting electrical currents and constituting a major force in controlling fluid balance within the body.

1825–35; electro- + -lyte

nonelectrolyte, noun
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World English Dictionary
electrolyte (ɪˈlɛktrəʊˌlaɪt)
1.  a solution or molten substance that conducts electricity
2.  a.  a chemical compound that dissociates in solution into ions
 b.  any of the ions themselves

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Word Origin & History

1834, from electro- (see electric) + Gk. lytos loosed, from lyein to loose (see lose).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

electrolyte e·lec·tro·lyte (ĭ-lěk'trə-līt')

  1. A chemical compound that ionizes when dissolved or molten to produce an electrically conductive medium.

  2. Any of various ions, such as sodium or chloride, required by cells to regulate the electric charge and flow of water molecules across the cell membrane.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
electrolyte  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (ĭ-lěk'trə-līt')  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A melted or dissolved compound that has broken apart into ions (anions and cations). Applying an electric field across an electrolyte causes the anions and cations to move in opposite directions, thereby conducting electrical current while gradually separating the ions. See also electrodialysis, electrolysis.

  2. Any of these ions found in body fluids. Electrolytes are needed by cells to regulate the flow of water molecules across cell membranes.

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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
electrolyte [(i-lek-truh-leyet)]

A substance that can serve as a conductor for an electric current when it is dissolved in a solution. Electrolytes are found in the blood and tissue fluids of the body.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
He's also a fan of vanadium-redox batteries, which are large tanks with flowing
Drink plenty of liquids: bottled water and sports drinks are ideal, because
  they replace fluids and electrolytes in your system.
Cholera is now remarkably easy to treat: the key is to quickly provide victims
  with large amounts of fluids and electrolytes.
However, they use liquid electrolytes that are volatile and could leak.
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