asbestos

noun
as·​bes·​tos | \ as-ˈbes-təs How to pronounce asbestos (audio) , 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

Asthma runs in my family, and growing up working-class in the inner city — pollution, roaches, and asbestos in public schools — didn’t help my lungs as a child. Mary Emily O'hara, Allure, "Why People With Asthma Can Benefit From Edibles," 20 Apr. 2019 Less than a week before, a jury in Oakland, Calif., awarded $29 million to a woman who claimed her mesothelioma was caused by asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder. Arthur W. Lambert, WSJ, "What Causes Cancer? It’s Complicated," 1 Apr. 2019 In the past, brake pad friction material relied heavily on asbestos. Mike Allen, Popular Mechanics, "How to Fix Squeaky Brakes," 14 Mar. 2019 This week, however, new tests performed by watchdog group U.S. Public Interest Research Group said analysis of four products from Claire's revealed the presence asbestos. Leada Gore, AL.com, "Claire's will reportedly file for bankruptcy; new test finds asbestos in makeup," 13 Mar. 2018 In more recent cases, plaintiffs allege asbestos in the powder is to blame for mesothelioma, as well as for ovarian cancer. Sara Randazzo, WSJ, "J&J Slammed by Concern Over Baby Powder Safety," 17 Dec. 2018 At aging Philadelphia schools, asbestos is a lurking health threat to children and staff. Wendy Ruderman, Philly.com, "Ways to make Philly schools healthier," 9 May 2018 The use of the clay mineral talc is specifically in question, since it's mined from underground deposits that may also contain asbestos, a classified carcinogen. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "So, About the FDA Finding Asbestos in Claire's Makeup: Here's What the Government Is Doing About It," 12 Mar. 2019 The administration is also proposing a new, $50 million grant program to repair public schools affected by asbestos, tainted water or other environmental hazards. ... Michelle Hackman, WSJ, "EPA Budget Would Be Slashed by 31%," 11 Mar. 2019

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

22 May 2019

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 How to pronounce asbestos (audio) , 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 How to pronounce asbestos (audio) , az- How to pronounce asbestos (audio) \

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

a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!