chem·​ist | \ ˈke-mist How to pronounce chemist (audio) \

Definition of chemist

1a obsolete : alchemist
b : one trained in chemistry
2 British : pharmacist

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Examples of chemist in a Sentence

let's ask the chemist whether it's safe to take these two drugs together
Recent Examples on the Web First, the scientists had to make radioactive elements more massive than a metal's other atoms, explains lead author Khadouja Harouaka, also a chemist at PNNL. Karmela Padavic-callaghan, Scientific American, 10 May 2021 Susan Neith, a forensic chemist at NMS labs in Pennsylvania. Star Tribune, 15 Apr. 2021 In September 2020, François-Xavier Coudert, a computational chemist at CNRS, the French national research agency, read a news article in Nature noting that at the time the academy had received no such complaints. Meredith Wadman, Science | AAAS, 13 Apr. 2021 But the Court of Special Appeals reversed that sentence in March 2020, finding that the state had erred in failing to call a chemist as a witness. Justin Fenton,, 20 May 2021 Solitro, a chemist, is from Portage County originally. Marc Bona, cleveland, 17 May 2021 First synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann in 1938, LSD is a potent, mood-changing synthetic chemical. Stav Dimitropoulos, SELF, 29 Apr. 2021 The bar for any new blue is high, says Erick Leite Bastos, a chemist at the University of São Paulo, São Paulo, who is working on developing a blue dye derived from beetroot. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, 9 Apr. 2021 The panel includes a chemist, a nurse who has been caring for patients on ventilators, a retiree and a social worker. Grace Hauck, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chemist.' 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 chemist

1559, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for chemist

earlier chymist, chimist, borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French chimiste, borrowed from Medieval Latin chymista, chimista, short for alchemista, alkimista alchemist

Note: As with other words that ultimately descend from alchemy, the e has been restored after Late Greek chēmeîa. Prior to ca. 1700 the words chymist and alchymist, chymistry and alchymy, with much variation in form and spelling, were either synonymous or distinguished in ways not in accord with the current distinction; the same applies to equivalent words in other European languages, as French chymie (later chimie) and alchymie. Though the authors of seventeenth-century treatises on alchemy/chemistry realized that the al- of alchemy was of Arabic origin, its significance was often not correctly understood. The French pharmacist Nicolas Lemery (1645-1715), in the first edition of his Cours de chymie (Paris, 1675, p. 2) notes the following about the word: "Chymistes have added the Arabic particle al to the word chymie, when they have wished to express that which is the most sublime [part of chymie], such as that which teaches the transmutation of metals, although alchymie signifies nothing other than chymie." ("Les chymistes ont ajouté la Particle Arabe Al, au mot de Chymie, quand ils ont voulu exprimé la plus sublime, comme celle qui enseigne la Transmutation des Metaux, quoy qu'Alchemie ne signifie autre chose que la Chymie.") This false etymologizing contributed to the later semantic separation of the two words. In a later edition of the same work (1675, pp. 60-61), Lemery took a much more negative position toward the transmutation of metals: "Thus to work at making gold is to work in shadows, and I find that alchymie has been defined very well [as follows]: Ars sine arte, cuius principium mentiri, medium laborare, & finis mendicare, an Art without art, whose beginning is lying, whose middle is labor, and whose end is beggary." ("Ainsi c'est proprement travailler en tenebres, que de travailler à faire de l'or, & je trouve qu'on a fort bien défini l'Alchymie, Ars sine arte, cuius principium mentiri, medium laborare, & finis mendicare.") This incipient limitation of alchymie to the transmutation of metals is taken up by later authors, as the English encyclopedist John Harris (ca. 1666-1719). In his Lexicon Technicum (1704), under the entry alchymist, Harris cites nearly verbatim Lemery's demeaning comments on alchymie, while chymistry is treated more neutrally: "Chymistry is variously defined, but the design of the Art is to separate usefully the Purer Parts of any mix'd body from the more gross and impure." In the influental Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot and contributors the separation between alchemy and chemistry is even clearer: "Chemistry is a science that is concerned with the separation and union of the principles making up bodies, whether operated upon by nature or by art, with the view of discovering the characteristics of these bodies, or of making them suitable for various uses." ("La Chimie est une science qui s'occupe des séparations & des unions des principes constituans des corps, soit opérées par la nature, soit opérées par l'art, dans la vûe de découvrir les qualités de ces corps, ou de les rendre propres à divers usages" - vol. 3, 1753, p. 417; the chimie article written by Gabriel-François Venel.) Alchemy, on the other hand, is characterized as essentially "the art of transmuting metals" ("l'art de transmuer les métaux," p. 425). For a detailed discussion, see William R. Newman and Lawrence M. Principe, "Alchemy vs. Chemistry: the Etymological Origins of a Historiographic Mistake," Early Science and Medicine, vol. 3, no. 1 (1998), pp. 32-65. The authors advocate using the term chymistry to describe alchemy/chemistry as it was practiced in the early modern period.

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The first known use of chemist was in 1559

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Last Updated

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chemist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for chemist



English Language Learners Definition of chemist

: a person who studies or does research in the science of chemistry


chem·​ist | \ ˈke-mist How to pronounce chemist (audio) \

Kids Definition of chemist

: a person trained or engaged in chemistry


chem·​ist | \ ˈkem-əst How to pronounce chemist (audio) \

Medical Definition of chemist

1 : one trained in chemistry
2 British : pharmacist


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