The phenomenon of rate enhancement of a reaction between chemical species located in different phases (immiscible liquids or solid and liquid) by addition of a small quantity of an agent (called the 'phase-transfer catalyst') that extracts one of the reactants, most commonly an anion, across the interface into the other phase so that reaction can proceed. These catalysts are salts of 'onium ions' (e.g. tetraalkylammonium salts) or agents that complex inorganic cations (e.g. crown ethers). The catalyst cation is not consumed in the reaction although an anion exchange does occur.
PAC, 1994, 66, 1077. 'Glossary of terms used in physical organic chemistry (IUPAC Recommendations 1994)' on page 1150 (https://doi.org/10.1351/pac199466051077)