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Vulcanize sounds like something Spock from Star Trek might do, but the explanation behind this word has more to do with ancient mythology than it does with science fiction. Vulcanization involves heating rubber in combination with sulfur. The Roman god Vulcan (whose Greek counterpart is Hephaestus) was the god of fire and of skills that used fire, such as metalworking. So when Charles Goodyear discovered that high heat would result in stronger rubber, he called the process "vulcanization" after the god of fire. Goodyear stumbled upon the idea in 1839 and acquired a patent for it in 1844, but the words "vulcanize" and "vulcanization" didn't appear in print until 1845 and 1846 respectively.
Origin of vulcanize
International Scientific Vocabulary, from Latin Vulcanus Vulcan, fire
First Known Use: 1846
Rhymes with vulcanize
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VULCANIZE Defined for Kids
Definition of vulcanize for Students
: to treat rubber with chemicals in order to give it more strength or flexibility
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