as·​bes·​tos | \ as-ˈbe-stəs 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

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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 Given the extreme health hazards presented by a forest contaminated with highly toxic asbestos, there was no margin for error under extremely difficult conditions. NBC News, "Wildfires fueled by climate change threaten toxic Superfund sites," 23 Dec. 2020 Lechlitner said the explosion scattered toxic material including asbestos and a refined form of uranium ore called yellowcake. Catherine Herridge, CBS News, "Uzbek base that housed U.S. troops allegedly had "7 to 9 times higher than normal" radiation, yellowcake uranium," 26 Oct. 2020 Retro Environmental, which offers services such as asbestos and lead abatement, is in a business park just west of Klee Mill Road. Angela Roberts,, "Mount Airy man charged in murder of father-in-law, business partner in Eldersburg," 26 Oct. 2020 At one time, asbestos seemed like a different kind of miracle material. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "How Asbestos—Yes, Asbestos—Could Fight Climate Change," 23 Oct. 2020 That's the European standardization to measure how effective any mask can keep very fine particles, even asbestos, out. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, "Racing- and Car-Themed Face Masks for Any Occasion," 8 Dec. 2020 The test results will be crucial to determining the scope of work for the asbestos and lead abatement component of the project. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Removal of dilapidated mobile homes from De Anza Cove delayed by pandemic, regulatory hurdles," 20 Nov. 2020 The company denies its products cause the life-threatening illnesses or that its talc was tainted by asbestos. Jef Feeley,, "J&J Gets $325 Million Talc Verdict Slashed by New York Judge," 20 Nov. 2020 Amianthus LLC in Berea found material containing asbestos in various building components, including pipe fittings, insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, Riser said, but that wasn’t surprising considering the school’s age. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Brecksville starts moving on redevelopment of former Central Elementary School," 17 Nov. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for asbestos

Time Traveler

The first known use of asbestos was in 1607

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Statistics for asbestos

Last Updated

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Asbestos.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for asbestos


How to pronounce asbestos (audio)

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


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


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on asbestos

Nglish: Translation of asbestos for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of asbestos for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about asbestos

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