asbestos

noun
as·​bes·​tos | \as-ˈbes-təs, az-\

Definition of asbestos 

: any of several minerals (such as chrysotile) that readily separate into long flexible fibers, that cause asbestosis and have been implicated as causes of certain cancers, and that have been used especially formerly as fireproof insulating materials

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

A grayish mineral that separates readily into long, flexible fibers, asbestos was used in the past to make brake linings, insulation, roofing shingles, floor and ceiling tiles, cement pipes, and other building materials. Asbestos fabrics were used for safety apparel and theater curtains. In the 1970s, it was found that prolonged inhalation of the tiny asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer, and other serious lung diseases. In 1989, the US Government instituted a gradual ban on the manufacture, use, and export of most products made with asbestos.

Examples of asbestos in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Baby powder and asbestos Talc is a natural mineral that is mined from the earth. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "Johnson & Johnson accused of hiding the asbestos in its baby powder for decades," 14 Dec. 2018 Manufacturing companies have used the process to compensate people sickened by asbestos. Katy Stech Ferek And Rebecca Davis O’brien, WSJ, "USA Gymnastics Bankruptcy Could Help Victims," 7 Dec. 2018 For years now, asbestos has been a building boogeyman. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Is Asbestos, And Why Did We Use It So Much?," 7 Aug. 2018 Stephen Lanzo, now in his mid-40s, said he was exposed to asbestos by inhaling dust from J&J baby powder from approximately 1972 to roughly 2003, according to the court complaint in the civil case. Dave Schatz, (east Brunswick, USA TODAY, "Johnson & Johnson hit with $37M verdict in asbestos-related cancer lawsuit," 6 Apr. 2018 There is also the potential for asbestos to be released from the bedrock of older homes, Gantt says. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "The Dangerous Health Risks That Could Follow the California Wildfires," 16 Nov. 2018 The company last week suffered a $4.69 billion jury verdict in St. Louis from a lawsuit alleging J&J’s iconic Johnson’s baby powder contained asbestos and caused their ovarian cancer. Linda A. Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Johnson & Johnson beats revenue, profit projections for 2Q," 17 July 2018 Mark Lanier, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that Johnson & Johnson had covered up evidence of asbestos in their products for more than 40 years. USA TODAY, "Nearly $4.7 billion awarded in Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit," 12 July 2018 The plaintiffs' lawyers said asbestos fibers and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of many of the women. USA TODAY, "Nearly $4.7 billion awarded in Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit," 12 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of asbestos

1607, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for asbestos

Middle English albeston mineral supposed to be inextinguishable when set on fire, probably from Middle French abeston, from Medieval Latin asbeston, alteration of Latin asbestos, from Greek, unslaked lime, from asbestos inextinguishable, from a- + sbennynai to quench

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about asbestos

Statistics for asbestos

Last Updated

18 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for asbestos

The first known use of asbestos was in 1607

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for asbestos

asbestos

noun

English Language Learners Definition of asbestos

: a soft gray mineral that does not burn, that was used especially as a building material in the past, and that can cause serious diseases of the lungs when people breathe its dust

asbestos

noun
as·​bes·​tos | \as-ˈbes-təs, az-\

Kids Definition of asbestos

: a grayish mineral that separates easily into long flexible fibers and has been used especially in the past in making fireproof materials

asbestos

noun
as·​bes·​tos | \as-ˈbes-təs, az- \

Medical Definition of asbestos 

: any of several minerals that readily separate into long flexible fibers, that cause asbestosis and have been implicated as causes of certain cancers, and that have been used especially formerly as fireproof insulating materials

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on asbestos

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with asbestos

Spanish Central: Translation of asbestos

Nglish: Translation of asbestos for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of asbestos for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about asbestos

Comments on asbestos

What made you want to look up asbestos? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

having a pattern of small flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!