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1) A compound required to begin a reaction or process, such as a catalyst or initiator. Enzymes are unique in that they may require an activator as well as be one themselves. For example, trace ions are often necessary for an enzyme to function, but once working, the enzyme itself becomes a catalyst for the primary reaction.

2) A compound that assists in a reaction to maximize its potential. This may be a catalyst or accelerator.

3) Any impurity that induces or increases luminescence in a mineral. Trace amounts of copper acts as an activator in zinc sulfide, while thallium activates potassium chloride.

Synonyms and Related Terms

catalyst; initiator; accelerator

Resources and Citations

  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998