arsenic

noun
ar·​se·​nic | \ ˈärs-nik, ˈär-sə- How to pronounce arsenic (audio) \

Definition of arsenic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a solid chemical element that is used especially in wood preservatives, alloys, and semiconductors and is extremely toxic in both pure and combined forms — see Chemical Elements Table
2 : a poisonous trioxide As2O3 or As4O6 of arsenic used especially as an insecticide or weed killer

called also arsenic trioxide

arsenic

adjective
ar·​sen·​ic | \ är-ˈse-nik How to pronounce arsenic (audio) \

Definition of arsenic (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or containing arsenic especially with a valence of five

Examples of arsenic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Additionally, varying levels of arsenic can be found in foods like rice and some fish. Stefani Sassos, Ms, Rdn, Cso, Good Housekeeping, "5 Healthy Rices You'll Want to Add to Your Next Meal," 13 Sep. 2020 Consuming inorganic arsenic has been associated with cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Sandee Lamotte And Gisela Crespo, CNN, "New FDA limits on arsenic levels in infant rice cereals don't adequately protect children, critics say," 6 Aug. 2020 According to Healthy Babies Bright Futures, the lowest levels of arsenic are found in basmati rice grown in California, India and Pakistan. Sandee Lamotte And Gisela Crespo, CNN, "New FDA limits on arsenic levels in infant rice cereals don't adequately protect children, critics say," 6 Aug. 2020 The salt was stored in a bunker near the river, as well as in uncovered piles, which allowed for stormwater runoff, wind erosion and leaching through soil and groundwater that carried the arsenic into the water, the documents say. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After decades of cleanup efforts, EPA delists the Lower Menominee River as 'area of concern'," 11 Aug. 2020 Inorganic arsenic has also been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes and neurodevelopmental toxicity, according to studies. Sandee Lamotte And Gisela Crespo, CNN, "New FDA limits on arsenic levels in infant rice cereals don't adequately protect children, critics say," 6 Aug. 2020 Discharges of arsenic, lead and other toxic metals into streams have been cited as environmental hazards at contaminated mine sites in places across the country. Ian James, azcentral, "Arizona company ordered to pay $5 million for arsenic leak from old mine," 29 May 2020 These tests cover iron and manganese, as well as nitrate, lead, arsenic, fluoride, sulfate, pH, total dissolved solids, hardness, sodium, copper, total coliform bacteria and E. coli bacteria. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, "Black grit on the faucet is not necessarily a problem," 24 Feb. 2020 For example, in 2014 the tailings pond at Mount Polley mine in British Columbia breached, sending billions of gallons of toxic wastewater containing lead and arsenic into nearby lakes and streams. Acacia Johnson, National Geographic, "The risky plan to haul minerals from a mine in the Alaska wilderness," 14 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Those consultants found arsenic and manganese in soil tests of the site, but experts said not at levels harmful to people. Taylor Deville, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore County’s first park in six years will convert Sparrows Point brownfield into 15-acre green space," 6 Apr. 2021 Of those dozen toxins, several — including arsenic and hexavalent chromium — are considered to be carcinogenic if consumed even in small amounts over a long period of time. Max Blau, ProPublica, "The Coal Plant Next Door," 22 Mar. 2021 The results were conclusive: Nearly all of Indiana's pits had been releasing a dangerous mix of heavy metals and toxic chemicals such as arsenic, boron, lead and mercury. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "Other states are making utilities dig up toxic coal ash. Indiana is letting it sit there.," 11 Feb. 2021 The water contained double the amount of arsenic and forty times the amount of phosphates and nitrates deemed safe. Ian Urbina, The New Yorker, "Fish Farming Is Feeding the Globe. What’s the Cost for Locals?," 1 Mar. 2021 The agency does regulate lead in bottled water, juice and candy, and limits arsenic and cadmium in bottled water, as well. Roni Caryn Rabin, BostonGlobe.com, "Some baby food may contain toxic metals, US reports," 4 Feb. 2021 Chemicals there include benzene, arsenic and polychlorinated biphenyls. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Richmond sued over plan to develop site laden with pollutants," 5 Jan. 2021 Overflows or leaks could have disastrous consequences for the Boundary Waters if toxic contaminants such as mercury, arsenic and sulfuric acid leak or spill into nearby waters. Jennifer Bjorhus, Star Tribune, "Success of Twin Metals copper mine hinges on holding every last drop of tainted water," 12 Dec. 2020 Theories have swirled that Cixi may have had a hand in the death (officially by suicide) of her son’s pregnant consort, or the arsenic poisoning of her nephew. Lila Thulin, Smithsonian Magazine, "Nine Women Whose Remarkable Lives Deserve the Biopic Treatment," 7 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arsenic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of arsenic

Noun

1747, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1798, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for arsenic

Noun

Middle English arsenek, arsenic "any of various compounds of arsenic, as yellow orpiment (arsenic trisulfide)," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French arsenik, arsneke, borrowed from Latin arrhenicum, arsenicon, borrowed from Greek arsenikón, arrhenikón, probably borrowed from Aramaic zarnīḵ "arsenic" or a cognate Semitic word, borrowed from an unattested form in a Middle Iranian language (whence Persian zarnī, zarnīk "orpiment, arsenic"), a derivative of the word for "gold" (as Manichaean Parthian zrn /zarn/ "gold," zrnyn /zarnēn/ "golden"), alluding to the yellow color of orpiment

Note: The Greek word is assumed to have been reshaped by folk-etymological association with arsenikós, arrhenikós "male, masculine." Aramaic zarnīḵ is attested in a papyrus text (an order to repair a boat) dated January, 411 b.c., found in elephantine, Egypt (see A. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C., Oxford, 1923, pp. 88-97; B. Porten, The Elephantine Papyri in English: Three Millennia of Cross-Cultural Continuity and Change, Brill, 1996, pp. 115-22); the word is also attested in Syriac a number of centuries later. The Manichaean Parthian forms are from D. Durkin-Meisterernst, Dictionary of Manichaean Texts, vol. III, Part 1, Dictionary of Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian, Brepols, 2004. Parthian zrn and zrnyn are continuations of an Old Iranian etymon represented by Avestan zarańiia- "gold"—see note at gold entry 1.

Adjective

from attributive or compound use of arsenic entry 1

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Time Traveler for arsenic

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The first known use of arsenic was in 1747

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Cite this Entry

“Arsenic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/arsenic. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for arsenic

arsenic

noun

English Language Learners Definition of arsenic

: a poisonous chemical that is used especially to kill insects and weeds

arsenic

noun
ar·​se·​nic | \ ˈärs-nik How to pronounce arsenic (audio) , ˈär-sə- \

Kids Definition of arsenic

: a solid poisonous chemical element that is usually gray and snaps easily

arsenic

noun
ar·​se·​nic | \ ˈärs-nik, -ᵊn-ik How to pronounce arsenic (audio) \

Medical Definition of arsenic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a trivalent and pentavalent solid poisonous element that is commonly metallic steel-gray, crystalline, and brittle symbol As — see Chemical Elements Table

arsenic

adjective
ar·​sen·​ic | \ är-ˈsen-ik How to pronounce arsenic (audio) \

Medical Definition of arsenic (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or containing arsenic especially with a valence of five

More from Merriam-Webster on arsenic

Nglish: Translation of arsenic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about arsenic

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