2

As far as I'm concerned, when you cause something to be done more quickly, you are expediting it; but I remember at the time of the high school's chemistry course I got familiar with another word, "catalyst / catalyzer" which was a substance which could expedite the a chemical reaction's process. Then I think these two verbs can be always used interchangeably. E.g. I'm sure the following sentences sound idiomatic and natural and they mean exactly the same thing:

  • Whereas he has some friends in high places, I expect him to catalyze the success process.
  • Whereas he has some friends in high places, I expect him to expedite the success process.

Do you confirm it?

  • 1
    There are usages like "He was a catalyst for change in his company." but I don't normally hear catalyze used in the same spots that expedite would be used. For example, "expedited shipping" couldn't be replaced with "catalyzed shipping". I think it is because you need a catalyst to catalyze, but something can be expedited without an explicit "expeditor". I will give it some thought and see if I can come up with a proper answer. – ColleenV parted ways Feb 12 '15 at 20:55
  • what is a "success process"? Did you mean "a successful process"? Also, why use "whereas" when you seem to mean "because"? "Whereas" is only idiomatic in formal contexts, such as legal documents or legislative acts. – Brian Hitchcock Feb 13 '15 at 0:59
4

They don't mean the same thing in regular American speech, though.

A catalyst starts a process -- in just about all definitions except the chemistry-specific one. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/catalyst?s=t)

Something that expedites a process, moves it along faster.

So "Whereas he has some friends in high places, I expect him to catalyze the success process" would be understood to mean you expect the success process to be started by "him."

While "Whereas he has some friends in high places, I expect him to expedite the success process" would be understood to mean that you expect the success process -- which is already started -- to be hastened along by this person.

1

to catalyze is the verb form of catalyst, which at least by this reference does not indicate a meaning like "expedite".

  1. any substance serving as the agent in catalysis
  2. a person or thing acting as the stimulus in bringing about or hastening a result

Since we are not talking about a chemical process in your example, we would need to go with sense 2.
Having a "result" is a key point.

In your example:

Whereas he has some friends in high places, I expect him to catalyze the success process.

there is a process but no result. But you could say:

Whereas he has some friends in high places, I expect him to catalyze the success of the process.

But here he is expected to have a causal effect on the process, not necessarily expediting anything.
A better example might be:

Whereas he has some friends in high places, I expect him to be a catalyst in the success of the process.

though I am playing with your example a bit.

  • I think it's a little confusing to use the definitions of the nouns when talking about the verb. The definition of the verb according to Collins is "to change or bring about as a catalyst" – ColleenV parted ways Feb 12 '15 at 22:22

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